Google News Initiative has partnered with DataLeads and Internews to host a series of training sessions titled “PollCheck: Covering India’s Election” for Indian journalists and journalism students for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The sessions will be held in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Bangla, Kannada, Gujarati, Odia, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi across 30 cities from 26 February to 6 April 2019. They will cover topics like ‘online verification and fact-checking, journalist digital safety and security, YouTube for elections coverage and data visualization for elections.’

Google claims to have trained over 13,000 journalists in 40 cities across India since 2016. It launched the Google News Initiative India Training Network in partnership with BoomLive, Internews, and DataLeads last June, aimed at training journalists on fake news detection and fact checking. Google’s trainers are coached by AltNews, Factchecker.in and others. The network plans to train 10,000 more Indian journalists in 2019.

Google’s efforts towards publishers and journalists

Note that in 2017, Google said that it would remove sites/publishers from news search results for intentionally masking their country of origin and misleading its users. Google’s algorithm would push down the link in search results depending on the spam reports, and in some cases, lead to complete removal. (More here.)

In 2015, Google launched News Labs for journalists which offered tools in the form of tutorials on how to better research, report, distribute and optimize stories for the Internet. The website also had a Data section with data visualizations using Google Trends.

The spread of misinformation and fake news remains a problem

However, since Google’s 2015 and 2017 efforts, the global regulatory perspective towards tech platforms has changed vastly. Since the death of Indians due to the spread of misinformation on WhatsApp, the Indian government has rapped on not just WhatsApp, but also other tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter followed Google and Facebook’s suit in verifying political advertisers and created an ad log. Facebook has even appointed an election integrity head for India along with two other public policy professionals who will oversee Facebook’s election integrity efforts in India.

Earlier this month, Facebook added five new third-party fact-checkers in India – India Today Group, Vishvas.news, Factly, Newsmobile, Fact Crescendo – certified by Poynter Institute’s IFCN, under 3 new languages. Last September, it started screening photos and videos for fake news across 17 countries through its 27 independent third–party partners.

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