Google on Thursday said it was providing $6.5 million in funding to fact-checkers and non-profit organisations fighting misinformation around Coronavirus (COVID 19) around the world.
Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google News Initiative (GNI) News Lab, said it was in an effort to help address the challenge of the ongoing spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said through its GNI Google was providing the funds to support media outlets and fact-checkers working to combat misinformation around the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Mantzarlis said Google would be supporting Africa Check in Nigeria, and Data Leads in partnership with BOOM Live in India to leverage data from Question Hub.
He said this will be complemented by an effort to train 1,000 journalists across India and Nigeria to spot health misinformation.
“Google’s online resources were being updated to support the vital work journalists were doing and the GNI Training Centre had tools for data journalism and verification in 16 languages.
“With a global team of Teaching Fellows delivering workshops entirely online in 10 languages.
“Health authorities have warned that an overabundance of information can make it harder for people to obtain reliable guidance about the coronavirus pandemic.
“Helping the world make sense of this information requires a broad response involving scientists, journalists, public figures, technology platforms and many others,” he said in a statement.
According to him, some other media outlets and non-profits around the world which will receive support through the Google News Initiative (GNI) include First Draft, a non-profit that is providing an online resource hub.
He said others were Full Fact and Maldita.es, which would coordinate efforts in Europe focused on countries with the most cases, CORRECTIV in Germany, LatamChequea, coordinated by Chequeado, in the Spanish-speaking world and Latin America.
Mr Mantzarlis said the collaborative verification project Comprova in Brazil, SciLine, based at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Australian Science Media Centre, creators of Scimex.org among others.
He said “We also want to do more to highlight fact-check articles that address potentially harmful health misinformation more prominently to our users.”
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He said Google was also experimenting with how best to include a dedicated fact check section in the COVID-19 Google News experience.
Mr Mantzarlis said already, Google had made Google Trends data readily available in localized pages with embeddable visualizations.
He said reporters across the globe needed to understand and explain how the world was searching for the virus.
Also Local Google Trends data is available for journalists, health organizations and local authorities to help them understand people’s information needs around the world.
Mr Mantzarlis said fact-checkers and health authorities also need help to identify topics that people were searching for and where there might be a gap in the availability of good information online.
He however said unanswered user questions could provide useful insights to fact-checkers and health authorities about content they may want to produce.
Over 174 cases have been reported in Nigeria while the current global cases from World Health Organisations (WHO) is 930,000 and over 47,000 deaths.