In recent times, fake news dissemination has stood its ground as part of the ills accompanying the inappropriate use of social media. Obviously, far too many cases of fake news dissemination have been found across social media platforms.
In actual reality, the fast-paced spread of fake news across the globe has continually called for the development of initiatives aimed at combating sources, persons or platforms engaged in fake news dissemination.
This article revolves around the concept of fake news in Africa with special emphasis on the leading startup companies fighting against it on the continent.
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Odipo Dev is a Kenyan startup which has made a notable contribution to the fight against the dissemination of fake news in Kenya. According to Samer Ahmed who is one of the company’s founders, clients of Odipo Dev raised a series of concerns regarding how to tackle the incidence of fake news. Prior to the 2017 presidential election in Kenya, Odipo Dev committed effort to monitoring the extent to which Kenyans were consuming false news. Additionally, the startup engaged a robot in keeping an eye on Kenya’s presidential debate.
Nendo is a Kenyan company concerned with tech-related research and which provides three major services namely Academy, Agency and Advisory. Remarking about the phenomenon of fake news in Kenya, the company’s founder, Mark Kaigwa, lamented that some Kenyans still subscribe to fake news and that they consider it useful to them.
In its fight against fake news dissemination, Nendo is said to have generated insights from over 400 million internet users. Notably, these insights were obtained as the requisites for arriving at a solution to the drawbacks of instantaneous online information dissemination. The need for this insights generation is believed to have arisen following the avalanche of fake stories disseminated in the course of 2017 general elections in Kenya.
In response to the need for combating the fast-rising trend of online misinformation in Kenya, PesaCheck climbed on the bandwagon of fact-checking initiatives. In fact, it has been touted as the trailblazer of public fact-checking initiatives in East Africa. PesaCheck is known for thoroughly investigating the validity of the statistical figures released by public establishments as well as checking the accuracy of reports contained in the media. One of PesaCheck’s most notable fights against fake news is unraveling the origin of a false story indicating that America’s President (Donald Trump) approved an order for Kenyans to be granted only 100 visas a year.
This is a Nigerian enterprising company which champions the demand to further incorporate accountability and transparency into governance. Considered a civic social enterprise, BudgIT has been in existence for several years and has churned out infographics as well as publications which allow Nigerians better access to the details of government budgeting and expenditure.
Indirectly, BudgIT is gaining attention of certain Nigerian seekers of reliable news on government spending. In one way or the other, the startup company has dissuaded some Nigerians from subscribing to a host of news outlets known for spreading fake news about the activities of the government.
In 2018, the duo of The Gates Foundation and Omidyar Network indicated the desire to pool efforts together in supporting BudgIT with the sum of $3 million. BudgIT is known for having developed an online technology named Tracka and which enables people to have a sense of engagement and properly monitor the capital projects in their environment.
This is another Nigerian startup company which indirectly fights against the spread of fake news in Nigeria. Situated in Lagos, Orodata is concerned with the democratization and simplification of public data. Owing to its undying commitment towards providing the Nigerian populace with reliable news, Orodata has made its online tracker (known as IDP Tracker) into an avenue for people to obtain essential information about internally displaced persons in northeastern Nigeria.
According to Blaise Aboh who is the head of Orodata’s data analysis team, IDP Tracker is aimed at improving the transparency of alleviation efforts and helping people realize the actual intensity of the problem in IDP camps.