Google has partnered with three firms to train Indian journalists to fact-check news, the company announced in a blog post. The three companies are fact-checking sites BoomLive and Internews, and news analytics firm dataLEADS. The search company aims to train 8,000 journalists in English and six Indian languages. A small circle of 200 trainers will first be coached by Indian fact-checkers like AltNews and Factchecker.in, and go on to train several more once their orientation is done. The program comes as part of the Google News Initiative, started in March by Google to tackle monetization and training issues with journalism.

Tackling fake news

In an IIT Delhi study on rumours spreading on WhatsApp described two effective models of preventing rumours and fake news spreading. The first, the beacon model, relies on government authorities combating the spread of fake news with legitimate information. The second, the neighbourhood model, is a decentralized version where ‘enlightened’ people who receive fake news work to debunk the rumour.

Read: Here’s how three of the firms Google partnered with approach fact-checking, as described at MediaNama’s open house discussion on Fake News.

Fake news in India

While fake news started gaining attention as an influencer of election results in the US, it has often been a question of life and death in India. WhatsApp messages are the most common vector of fake news, often spreading misinformation that leads to social unrest, murders, and internet shutdowns. Dealing with fake news can be very difficult when it is spread and altered rapidly on messaging services, especially in communal tinderboxes with pre-existing tensions. Google’s initiative to coach journalists in multiple regional languages on spotting and countering misinformation could be an essential piece in a much-needed ecosystem of countering the consequences of online misinformation.