What is it: CheckDesk is a multilingual tool which helps journalists to verify the accuracy of social media reports of breaking news. It has been in development by social technology not for profit Meedan since 2012 and has recently received additional funding to further develop their aim of connecting journalists to sources on the ground in the Middle East. CheckDesk was first trialled by Egyptian news organization Al-Masry Al-Youm to cover the presidential elections in 2012. More recently the platform was used to verify video of the Free Syrian Army offensive on an oil refinery in Homs.
Use for News: The code to install the platform is available freely on Github and users adapt the way it functions to suit their organisation. Contributors on the ground post their own media with evidence to verify their story. They can also view and fact check news reports that have been contributed by others. Journalists gathering emerging reports use CheckDesk as a filter which helps to verify and make sense of breaking news reports.
Upside: Like health warnings on food packaging, CheckDesk allows “verified”, “false” or “in progress” clarifications to be attached to reports which can continue to be checked through collaboration with readers and contributors. With additional funding in place Meedan plan to further enhance verification techniques by offering further checklists and guidance on fact checking, utilising search engines to check weather reports on given days and examining EXIF data on photographs.
Downside: Whilst social media has personalised the reporting of conflict has it also made it more chaotic and confusing for news consumers? Mathew Ingram thinks not…