The Ekta News Coalition, a group of Indian fact-checkers, announced on Friday that five new members have joined it, making it a group of 12. The new members of the coalition are FactCrescendo, NewsMeter, Newschecker, The Healthy Indian Project, and The Logical Indian.
Ekta said that with the addition of new members, it hopes to strengthen fact-checking and address misinformation in the coming months, especially with regards to the upcoming state elections in 2023 and Lok Sabha elections in 2024.
The coalition first came about in 2018 to fact-check misinformation surrounding the 2018 Rajasthan Assembly elections. The founding members are AFP Fact Check, BOOM Live, Factly, India Today Fact Check, Vishvas News, and The Quint's WebQoof.
Every Ekta member has a WhatsApp tipline where Indian users can send leads on suspicious messages, rumors, and election-related queries for fact-checking. Here are the numbers:
AFP Fact-Check +91 9599973984
BOOM Live +91 7700906588
Factly +91 9247052470
Fact Crescendo +91 9049053770
India Today +91 7370007000
Newschecker +91 9999499044
NewsMeter: +91 7482830440
The Logical Indian +916364000343
The Healthy Indian Project +91 8507885079
Vishvas News +91 9599299372
The Quint (WebQoof) +91 9643651818
Welcoming the new members, Managing Editor of BOOMLive Jency Jacob said, "Journalists and fact-checkers around the world are working together to fight disinformation and improve the quality of information available through social media. It is time for Indian newsrooms and those working in the media literacy space to join hands and fight the spread of disinformation in the country."
All of Ekta's founding members are part of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme, and Meedan, a global technology non-profit that has provided access to its fact-checking platform Check and strategic support for this project. From receiving user queries and submissions from WhatsApp to sending back verified reports to users, Check helps each group to manage workflow.
Shalini Joshi, Meedan’s APAC Director, said, "Ekta’s impact is not limited to India. The consortium hopes to take the best practices and insights from this collaborative process to other fact-checking groups, newsrooms and civil society organizations in order to expand the reach of fact-checks across regions, issues and languages."
Speaking for the need to tackle misinformation, Ruby Dhingra, Managing Editor of Newschecker.in, said Ekta could harness the expertise of each member to deliver trustworthy and high-quality content for the online user. "Collaborations by fact checkers in other countries on misinformation related to COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have proved effective. In 2023, election related misinformation is a significant focus, but we aspire to see members joining forces on a variety of topics, including health, science, and breaking news/developing stories," Dhigra said.
Rakesh Dubbudu, CEO, Factly said the addition of new organisations could also help Ekta reach newer audiences and added, "Collaboration is critical in the fight against mis/disinformation especially in a diverse country like ours with multiple languages."