Andela to fight “Fake News” with 24-Hour Hackathon

Andela, the global technology company that identifies and develops Africa’s most talented software engineers to help companies scale with high-performing, distributed engineering teams, today announces that applications are now open for its upcoming “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon. Supported by BBC News, the two-day event, which will see participants spend 24 hours working in teams to prototype solutions to solve an element of the fake news ecosystem, will take place at the Andela Kenya office in Nairobi from Friday 9th to Saturday 10th November.

As part of their series ‘Beyond Fake News’, the “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon is one of a number of events being supported by BBC News, further reinforcing the broadcaster’s commitment to tackling the problem posed by the spread of disinformation. In recent years, fake news has spread widely throughout Kenya, East Africa’s most tech-savvy country, with reports suggesting that 87% of Kenyan citizens were inundated with fake news coverage during Kenya’s 2017 campaign season.

Themed ‘Technology for public good: countering fake news online’, the fast-paced event will bring together over 50 technologists with the aim of showcasing how technology can be used to identify and curb the spread of fake content in Kenya. Consisting of a 24 hour non-stop challenge, coders are 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.

Ten teams of 2-5 people, will present their solution to a panel of  judges. The teams’ final work will be judged based on the following:

  • Solution Quality [Does the solution work?]

  • Solution Viability [Is it a solution people would embrace?]

  • Application of Fake News [How well does the solution solve for fake news?] and

  • Demo [How well was the solution presented and demoed?].

The teams with the top three strongest ideas will be given the chance to present their concepts at an upcoming BBC event.

Joshua Mwaniki, Andela Kenya’s Country Director says, “The authenticity of news has become a longstanding issue affecting Kenya’s social stability. Technology has revolutionised 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.

For a country where as much as 88% of the population access the internet through their mobile phones, the prospects for a false news story to spread across Kenya via social media platforms before getting debunked, is extremely high.

Mwaniki concludes: “Hackathons encourage participants to tap into their creativity and be innovative, which is why we are confident that the Andela “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon will result in some innovative solutions created to stem disinformation on social platforms. We’re encouraging as many technologists and content developers to enter and join us as we work together to combat fake news”.

For more information on how to apply, please visit Andela’s Hackathon website.

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