We’ve all seen them. The endless forwards. The bizarre screenshots that have you wondering whether there’s a bomb at the nearby supermarket or someone’s going to throw you in jail for the simple act of getting back on Facebook. Fake news and willful misinformation is a real problem in Sri Lanka.
We’re here to help stem the tide. To stay safe and rational.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. WHO ARE YOU, REALLY?
We’re a multidisciplinary team of concerned citizens who’ve been dealing with misinformation for the past three days. We identify hoaxes as they propagate, scan trusted news sources and verify information.
2. WHAT’S YOUR METHODOLOGY?
Simple. We monitor social media channels - from Twitter to Facebook to WhatsApp. We check information we see against a base set of five sources - Azzam Ameen of BBC Sinhala, Marianne David of the DailyFT, Roel Raymond of Roar, Newsfirst and Derana to see if the information shows up in media.
We look for credibility, but in a landscape where the police identify innocent students and death tolls fluctuate by hundreds, we understand that traditional sources are not enough. If a piece of information shows up on reputed sources, we flag it as true and pass it on to you. If there’s nothing, we either flag it as fake, or, depending on the volume and veracity of the threat, we investigate further with a secondary database of journalists and on-the-ground sources that we personally know and trust.
All of this translates into a simple interface that you can open to see what’s real and what’s not, including the sources we verified it from. So don’t take our word for it: you can always dig in.
3. I WANT TO CHECK FAKE NEWS! CAN I VOLUNTEER?
Fact-checking is a thankless task. There’s no glamour in it and there’s a lot of spreadsheets involved. If you really want to help us, keep an eye out for what happens in your immediate circles. Use the protocol above. Fight your own localized battles. We’ll reach out as and when we need fire support.
4. IS THIS ENDORSED BY <INSERT INSTITUTION HERE>
No. We’re on our own.
5. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO MAKE MONEY?
Right now, nothing. We plan to introduce a model where the basic fact-checking is always available at no cost and the revenue stream is from a service that helps you locate family and friends.
6. WHAT DATA ARE YOU COLLECTING?
If we ask a piece of data of you, we’re probably keeping it. We’ll be collecting usage statistics, like every other app out there, so we can keep improving our service.