Tertiary students come up with innovative ideas to tackle fake news

The winning team for fake news hackathon: (front row left to right) Brandon Ong, 21, Timothy Lui, 21, Tong Hui Kang, 21, and (back row left to right) Khong Jia Wei, 21, and Fariha Ahsan, 21.
The winning team for fake news hackathon: (front row left to right) Brandon Ong, 21, Timothy Lui, 21, Tong Hui Kang, 21, and (back row left to right) Khong Jia Wei, 21, and Fariha Ahsan, 21.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
More than 100 tertiary students spent a good five hours on Saturday (Oct 14) racking their brains and coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the problem of fake news.
More than 100 tertiary students spent a good five hours on Saturday (Oct 14) racking their brains and coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the problem of fake news.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
More than 100 tertiary students spent a good five hours on Saturday (Oct 14) racking their brains and coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the problem of fake news.
More than 100 tertiary students spent a good five hours on Saturday (Oct 14) racking their brains and coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the problem of fake news.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
The students were participating in a hackathon to reduce the impact of fake news, by making it easy for users to quickly verify if a piece of information is real.
The students were participating in a hackathon to reduce the impact of fake news, by making it easy for users to quickly verify if a piece of information is real. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
The students were participating in a hackathon to reduce the impact of fake news, by making it easy for users to quickly verify if a piece of information is real.
The students were participating in a hackathon to reduce the impact of fake news, by making it easy for users to quickly verify if a piece of information is real. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - Some 140 tertiary students spent a good four hours on Saturday (Oct 14) coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the problem of fake news.

The ideas include applications that cross-check rumours with trusted news sites and chat bots that alert readers before they post news from dubious sources.

They were participating in a hackathon to reduce the impact of fake news, primarily by making it easy for users to quickly verify if a piece of information is real.

Over the course of the day, students, working in teams, looked at ways to improve the fact-checking process, and discussed what could work, tapping on technology for solutions. They later presented a working demonstration of their ideas.

The event was organised by the National University of Singapore, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Google and the Media Literacy Council. It was held at the Google Asia-Pacific office in Pasir Panjang.

In the end, a team of five SUTD students came up tops with their idea of creating a platform where individuals collaborate to check on the authenticity of articles. They received prize money of $5,000 in total.

Team leader Timothy Liu, 21, said: "By getting people to come together, we can consider the different perspectives in verifying if the information is real."


 More than 100 tertiary students spent a good five hours on Saturday (Oct 14) racking their brains and coming up with innovative ideas to tackle the problem of fake news. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

The hackathon, supported by The Straits Times, is part of the newspaper's continuing efforts to counter the spread of fake news and improve media literacy.

ST digital editor Ong Hwee Hwee, who was one of the judges at the event, said: "Some proposals were very well thought through and stood out in terms of their ease of use. The winning project, for instance, allows readers to verify news by simply installing a plug-in on their browsers."

"There were also some very creative ideas, such as 'inoculating' readers by flagging fake news even before they go viral, and using Telegram chat bots to alert readers before they share news which might not be true."


The students were participating in a hackathon to reduce the impact of fake news, by making it easy for users to quickly verify if a piece of information is real.   ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO