Google funding Africa Check to fight fake news in South Africa

Google.org has announced the recipients of grants for its “Google AI Impact Challenge“, one of which was awarded to a team of three fact-checking organisations and the Open Data Initiative.

Africa Check is one of the organisations that is part of the group, along with Latin American fact-checking operation Chequeado. The group is led by Full Fact in the United Kingdom.

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, the head of product impact at Google.org, said at a media event during Google I/O that Full Fact received a grant of $2 million — one of the larger AI Impact Challenge grants awarded.

The funding will be shared between the four organisations over three years. Africa Check also said that it will receive coaching from Google’s AI experts, and credits and consulting from Google Cloud.

Gosselink explained that grants do not impose conditions on which technologies recipients are allowed to use. None of the organisations that received grants are compelled to use Google’s services to do their work.

While Full Fact’s team may have decided to use Google Cloud, Gosselink said that other grant recipients have already decided to use competing services.

Automated fact checking

The team of fact checkers will be using Google.org’s grant to build artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that dramatically improve and scale global fact-checking efforts, Africa Check said. This will happen over the next five years.

“It is an ambitious plan to use artificial intelligence to transform the international fight against misinformation,” said Africa Check.

According to Africa Check, Full Fact is a pioneer in the field of automated fact-checking and has been working on the problem since 2013.

“Since then, with Chequeado and Africa Check, they have built technologies used across three continents and are working to roll them out to 50 organisations worldwide.”

The three fact-checking organisations will team up with international experts to define how artificial intelligence could transform this work. They will also develop, deploy, and evaluate new tools.

The Open Data Institute, which was co-founded by the inventor of the web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and artificial intelligence expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt, will provide statistical analysis for Full Fact’s initiative.

One of the tools the group is working on is trend monitoring and clustering to help fact checkers’ analysis of news and other information with AI.

Full Fact said that this will give fact-checkers more time to focus on research, analysis, and writing articles that contextualise the news and help everyone make more informed decisions.

“We’ll help media outlets, civil society, platforms and public policy-makers worldwide understand how AI can help people decide what information to trust and bring the benefit of automated fact-checking tools to everyone,” Africa Check said.

“In five years, we hope our project will let individual citizens and Internet users place trust with confidence, help Internet companies make fair and informed judgements at scale, and enable policy-makers to better understand how they can respond to misinformation while robustly protecting free speech.”

AI for Social Good

Google.org issued an open call to organisations around the world to submit their ideas for how they could use AI to help address societal challenges.

It received applications from 119 countries, spanning 6 continents with projects ranging from environmental to humanitarian. It selected 20 organisations from a pool of over 2,600 non-profits to support.

Gosselink said that Full Fact’s ability to assemble a cross-continental fact-checking partnership was a strong selling point for its project.

“It’s one of the projects that we’re actually really excited to support at the earlier stage of its work,” said Gosselink.

Jan Vermeulen is a guest of Google at I/O 2019 in Mountain View, California.

Now read: Google fights fake news with Fact Check label

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Recommended

Share this article
Google funding Africa Check to fight fake news in South Africa