Andela, the Nigerian founded company that trains Afrika’s most talented software engineers to help companies scale with high-performing, distributed engineering teams, has announced that it will be hosting the “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon. Hackathon participants are expected to spend 24 hours working in teams to prototype solutions to solve a specific element of the fake news ecosystem.
the "Fighting Fake News" Hackathon will take place at the Andela Kenya office in Nairobi from 9 to 10 November 2018.
“The authenticity of news has become a longstanding issue affecting Kenya's social stability. Technology has revolutionized the way we consume content, enabling millions to access their news online. However, we’re also seeing the rise of technology being misused and is now becoming a major contributing factor in the “Fake News” phenomena. As a company that is investing in Africa's most talented software developers, we’re excited to be supported by BBC News; an international organisation considered to be the ‘gold standard’ when it comes to media training journalists," said Joshua Mwaniki, Andela Kenya’s Country Director.
Can technology stop fake news?
Kenya has had its fare share of fake news scandals, especially involving politics and elections. This was more evident in the lead up to the East Afrikan country's 2017 presidential elections. The problem got so bad that Facebook took out advertisements in newspapers and launched an educational tool to help its users in Kenya to spot fake news.
Some reports have suggested that 87% of Kenyan citizens were inundated with fake news coverage during Kenya’s 2017 campaign season. This is where Andela hopes its hackathon will make a difference.
The hackathon will run under the theme: "Technology for public good: countering fake news online". It will witness over 50 technologists come together with the aim of showcasing how technology can be used to identify and curb the spread of fake content in Kenya.
Software developers will be expected to create mobile-based solutions around countering fake news online, an algorithm that verifies whether widely shared videos and images are fake as well as a web plugin that fact-checks fake news online.
The question though is, can technology really stop fake news?
Perhaps technology solutions can help in reducing fake news but ultimately, it is those who consume content who will have to determine whether something is fake or not.
Cover image credit: Andela Kenya.