FakeHunter: how to deal with fake news using technology - DO OK

FakeHunter: how to deal with fake news using technology

Our special Ikigai Team's developed a system to fight with misinformation during the pandemic. In only four weeks, we've created a system that allows verifying Coronavirus-related (but not limited to) information based on a crowdsourcing approach, with future extension to NLP.


The project was realized as a part of DO OK's pro bono activities to develop fully working open-source solutions. Our clients were The Polish Press Agency and The Ministry of Digitization on behalf of the Office of the Prime Minister of Poland.


In this article, you'll read about:

• the project background and research about how the pandemic crisis influences our perception and behavior 

• what we've worked on with the client to avoid misinformation 

• how the solution helps end-users

• what technology we've implemented

• the biggest challenges and plans for the next steps.



Project background


A lot of people across the globe are worried about the reliability of coronavirus and pandemic information. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 74% of respondents are afraid that there is a lot of false information spread about the virus and pandemic. For 45%, it's been challenging to find reliable and trustworthy information. 85% is interested to hear more details from scientists than from politicians. 58% of respondents are concerned that certain people are making the situation "seem worse than it is" for political gain.


Media and governments had trust challenges going into the crisis. 63% of respondents said that they would believe information from their employee's trustworthy channel after just one or two data. exposures, versus 58% for a government website, and 51% for traditional media.
What is even more interesting, over one-third of people said they would never believe social media if it were the only place they had seen the information.

7 in 10 respondents are following coronavirus news in the media at least once a day, with 33% saying they are checking several times a day. 

Reuters Institute Research pointed out that most of the misinformation (59%) involves various forms of changes. Current and often authentic information is being spun, twisted, recontextualized, or reworked. In the analyzed sample, 38% of misinformation was completely fabricated.



A relevant and reliable source of information


According to Cision's 2020 Global State of the Media Report, 59% of journalists believe that the public has lost trust in the media over the last year.

The number of English-language fact-checks increased by more than 900% from January to March.
Moreover, as fact-checkers have limited resources and cannot check all questionable content, the total volume of different kinds of coronavirus misinformation has almost certainly grown even faster.



To avoid those situations we've decided to act and create a solution that supports verifying the correctness of the information published onlineThe client has noticed the need to develop a tool that would help in the fight against fake news. 
FakeHunter solves a problem by providing the community with verified information, eliminating untrustworthy resources, reducing anxiety and tensions, and strengthening trust between government and citizens. 



How FakeHunter works


Our solution gives a clear, unique value proposition for every consumer, quick time to market with a realistic implementation plan, and easy and versatile integrations with other platforms. The most important was the core system, i.e., the browser plugin, panel for fact-checkers, and a functional portal with basic features. Due to the short time, we cut everything that was not necessary for running the MVP.

A system allows verifying Coronavirus related information based on built-in, existing tools. There is no need to install other applications or programs. To make content verification as easy as possible, we've implemented a free dedicated browser plugin. The user selects and sends the content to the controllers' pipeline. They check the credibility of the chosen element and the source. In the next step, the concerned user receives a reliable answer verified by the system's volunteer team made up of opinion leaders and PAP fact-checkers. Social Fact-checkers have 24 hours for sending the answer by e-mail. The hottest inquiries are published on the dedicated website supported by PAP. With this solution, users get real information from reliable sources.



Project challenges & technology


One of the target group were people who are not tech-savvy and mostly use pre-installed applications. That's why, after research, we've decided to focus firstly on browser plugin as the most natural way to help people detect uncertain information.

We had a short time to implement the solution. The full scope of MVP was ready within only a few weeks. Under these unusual circumstances, the team was motivated to work around the clock to achieve the goal.

The biggest challenge on the back-end was to prepare the app for the significant traffic.
Therefore we had to split the app for several smaller services, which are responsible for receiving, processing, and displaying data independently. On the front-end side, we prepared two apps: the panel and the portal. Both are written in the React.js. The panel site has to manage with a massive amount of data, so we decided to connect Redux. To speed the development process up, we used the material-UI components.
The portal is a smaller part of the app, but it is visible for the end-users; that is why we decided to use also next.js framework. It allows the smooth implementation of the server-side rendering, which is vital for the performance and accessibility of the portal site.

The delivered solution includes a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox, a review panel for fact-checkers and experts of the Polish Press Agency, and a dedicated website with aggregated verified content.



Contribution to improving the quality of society lives


Usage of our solution will directly or indirectly reduce resources put into rectification, crisis management, or multiple reprints of irrelevant content distributed through online media channels. Here are three obvious benefits

• Single-users have constant feedback and recommendations on the content they read or browse. This solution saves time searching for verified information.

• Regional portals, local community websites, and national press agencies have gained a tool to improve the quality of content served to readers.

• Such clusters as industry associations, public trust moderators who manage various issues around communication to consumers, investors, or employees are now able to speed up their absorbing work with the help of FakeHunter tool. SMEs and corporates may also use the tool to trace false or misleading information about their governance, products, or services.


Multiple research sources confirmed that the societal value from less stress, fewer rumors, and more trust brings a reduction of violence, economic growth, and higher index of happiness (various studies by D. Kahneman, R. Sapolsky, M. Seligman, D. Goleman). Altogether, this heavily contributes to the whole economic and social situation in every country and company.

Fakehunter as a solution using crowdsourcing helps overcoming the fear through fact-based communication, reducing panic, restoring the courage, and feeling of security - that's the positive impact of mitigation of fake or unfair information. We see it reasonable to continue work on NLP to bring automated recommendations to users or experts. 

Currently, the solution's overall reach is 38 mln people (and counting) thanks to cooperation with GovTech and the Polish Press Agency. The tool is adaptable and can be used worldwide in any subsequent crisis. We hope that such a comprehensive solution will attract enough attention at the European level.


Visit the website: https://fakehunter.pap.pl/


Client opinion: 

"Project management was very impressive. DO OK developed the client's idea, the impossible, within four weeks. The team complied with deadlines on a regular basis and communicated everything well ahead of time. They had impressive project management skills that allowed them to do the job right in a short period of time"
~ Robert Król, Deputy Director, GovTech Polska 


Full Clutch Review



Do you have any questions about the project or have similar challenges in your business? Feel free to contact us!



Author: Katarzyna Leszczyńska-Bohdan

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