The Fifth Elephant 2019

Gathering of 1000+ practitioners from the data ecosystem

Technology to counter misinformation/disinformation

Submitted by Pratik Sinha (@pratiksinha) on Jun 17, 2018

Section: Crisp talk Technical level: Intermediate Status: Confirmed & Scheduled


A lot of fact-checking tasks can be automated via technology as there are repeated instances of fake videos and images that are distributed with different narratives. With misinformation/disinformation killing people in India now and also being weaponised to attack the social fabric of the country, it is must that those working in various related technologies come together to fight against this menace. A lot can be done in the open source domain to ease fact-checking by creating software stacks than can identify old content that is recirculated on social media in terms of text, images and videos against a known database of such content. Essentially, the Google Reverse Image search technology and Youtube Content ID in open source.

Once such a stack is available, mobile apps can be created which can be used to help people with fact-checking for the content that they receive on social media and chat apps.


This is a call for the tech community to come together and create open source technlogy which can help fight misinformation/disinformation. The technology created will be useful not only in the Indian context but also in the global context.

Speaker bio

I’m the co-founder of Alt News, a fact-checking website which has been working on the issue of misinformation/disinformation since Feb 2017. Previously, I have a background in software engineering having worked in the wireless/embedded field for over 13 years in India, US and Vietnam. With my experience with Alt News and my previous experience of working on some cutting edge technlogies, I am able to envision how technology can play a very important role in this fight against misinformation/disinformation.


  • Zainab Bawa (@zainabbawa) a year ago

    I have summarised the feedback from today’s session. Here are the key points regarding the structure and flow of the presentation:

    1. Start the presentation by calling out that you want help from the tech community to solve for the fake news problem. Reinforce this point during the talk, and guide the audience towards action that they can take regarding this.
    2. Explain the problem of fake news. If you use terms like propaganda, fake news and others, help the audience with meanings of each and how to distinguish the terms.
    3. What is the business model which prevents tech companies from actively creating solutions to solve for misinformation?
    4. Explain what virality means? What are the metrics and how does one measure virality? How does virality tie in with fake news and the business model of tech companies?
    5. If tech companies are making efforts which are mere PR efforts, call out the efforts and substantiate the claim that these are only PR efforts.
    6. Show numbers on money, traffic, etc which the organizations who’s role is to bring in virality make/bring in? This is to show the information/misinformation economics and put things in clearer perspective for participants.
    7. Explain what AltNews is doing and how you are trying to solve the problem.Show videos of your app and how it works. We will prepare for a livecast of your app directly from your phone. Give a demo of how the app works, and the workflow from WhatsApp to the app will be useful.
    8. Call out that WhatsApp is not cooperating with you.
    9. Share an architecture diagram of what you are doing/intend to build which will get the community to contribute concretely.
    10. What can someone in the audience do if they are:

      • Consumer
      • Engineer/Developer
      • Business/Firm
      • Community
        This also ties in with the other feedback about the local influencer point having to be more crisper with concrete examples. Who is to help and how to help?
    11. The primary feedback points were to go into the problem, explain the technical details as in-depth as possible, and guide participants towards what action they can take, so that people walk out of the talk with ideas for action.

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