Meedan is a global technology not-for-profit that develops open-source tools for creating and sharing context on digital media through annotation, verification, archival, and translation. We co-create programmatic initiatives with technologists, newsrooms, fact-checkers, public health professionals, NGOs and academic institutions on award-winning projects from election monitoring to pandemic response to human rights documentation.
This Annual Report reflects the state of Meedan and its financial health. Meedan is a US registered, San Francisco based, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2006 that works on projects to support global journalism and cross-cultural education.
Hi Meedan Friend,
It’s comforting to return. Probably has something to do with the fact that we are on a planet that spins on its axis once a day. During times of chaos, confusion and uncertainty being asked to return to a regular task can feel like a lifeline. Writing this note to you from day 22 of our shelter-in-place here at the home office in Woodacre, CA, I am grateful not only for the honor of looking back across an amazing year for this organization but also for the momentary normality from my annual return to the task of remarking on the past year at Meedan.
As a context company, I will make an effort to also situate this note in the data that describes the current global pandemic. This annual CEO letter is being written on a day when the World Health Organization notes 1,279,722 confirmed global cases of COVID-19. The year began with concern for Wuhan and China, but by the start of March there was more attention on other East Asian countries. By the end of March, of course, more focus on Iran, Europe, and the US. We are currently bracing ourselves for the focus to unfortunately move to countries in the greater Global South, including the North Africa Western Asia region, Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific, where social distancing is much harder, and where COVID-19 is likely to have unprecedented devastating effects.
Today as I write this note, we have made public an ambitious COVID-19 response database and toolkit effort with the support of Sida, Google, Facebook, Omidyar, and a cast of global public health experts. I am reminded of a similar point in the early weeks of 2011 when our team efforts were in the course of a few short days converted to working with a community of hundreds of translators to share personal narratives from inside the Egyptian revolution.
Just as our work to establish and staff a team of journalists and engineers in Cairo from 2007 placed us in a unique position do important work during the Arab Spring, our work on Covid-19 response began in 2018 when we established Meedan’s Digital Health Lab as a research and practice hub for developing a standard of care for responding to misinfodemics. Which is perhaps a thread I can follow here to get back to the task of reporting on Meedan’s remarkable year in 2019.
We have always viewed our work as fundamentally global, from our beginnings in 2006 building a social network for translating and annotating global media to our work since 2011 on media verification and fact-checking workflow, we have always emphasized the need to work across boundaries and between communities. In 2019 we formalized this community aspect of our work, launching the Check Global Network with LatAm, APAC, NAWA (North Africa West Asia), and East African partners. A few of the highlights from this network:
We supported the inspiring women’s media collective Chicas Poderosas to lead two collaborative media design and training workshops, or “mediathons” in Colombia and Mexico, each of these brought together more than 100 women journalists for fact-checking and verification trainings and media innovation co-design. Mediathons are two-day events where journalists, communicators, designers, and other women who work in media gather with the aim of creating collaborative, multimedia, journalistic projects to make visible under-represented issues.
The NAWA Investigative Fund is an initiative of Check Global to financially support new, quality investigative journalism from, for, and about the Arab region. The NAWA-IF supports a new generation of digital investigative journalists in the North Africa and West Asia (NAWA) region by providing micro-grants for investigative work across all media.
During 2019, our partner Mnemonic has published four full-length open source investigations in Syria. The investigations included the bombing of civilian infrastructure such as medical facilities, as well as the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria and the export of these chemicals from the EU to Syria after sanctions.
Our work with Hacks/Hackers on the Credibility Coalition continued in 2019, with the release of the CredCat as a compendium of misinformation response efforts around the world.
Our election monitoring work continued with important efforts in APAC. We ran a Pop-Up Newsroom (our partnership with Fathm) with WhatsApp and the civic media studio Proto. The Checkpoint project team monitored and responded to visual misinformation circulating on WhatsApp through the run up to the Indian national election in July. In parallel we ran election monitoring projects in Indonesia, Cekfakta, with partner Tempo.co, and in the Philippines, Tsek.ph, with partner Vera Files.
Checkpoint was also the first release of our open source solution for monitoring and responding to misinformation on WhatsApp. This technology is a version of Check that is integrated with WhatsApp (and a dozen other closed messaging apps) and optimized for efficiently sorting thousands of incoming messages and generating visual cards for viral response. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have WhatsApp as a partner in this work to design and develop tools to address the most daunting aspect of the global misinformation challenge - misinformation response in E2E encrypted messaging networks.
Looking back, it is clear that our accomplishments in 2019 have positioned us well to contribute to the unfolding crisis of Covid-19. From this vantage point it is pretty clear that now, more than ever, the world needs Meedan to succeed in its mission to improve the equity, diversity, and inclusion in our digital ecologies as a means to create and extend a healthier world. As a small but mighty organization we will continue to build global infrastructure in code, data, partners, and research to address the grand challenges that feel so close and pressing.
Please be safe and stay healthy.
Meedan is a technology not-for-profit that builds tools and develops programs to strengthen global journalism, digital literacy, and accessibility of information.
Pop-Up Newsroom - Chisinau, Moldova
SXSW: Nutrition Labels for News - Austin, Texas
Computing Week - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
Computing Week - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
Google News Initiative Summit - Google HQ, Silicon Valley, California
Tech & Check - Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Internet Freedom Festival - Valencia, Spain
International Journalism Festival - Perugia, Italy
Pop-Up Newsroom: US2020 - Washington DC
SwitchPoint - Saxapahaw, North Carolina
Mexico on Rails - Mexico City, Mexico
Stockholm Internet Forum - Stockholm, Sweden
New Delhi, India
Rights Night 1st Amendment: David Kaye Book Launch - Los Angeles Central Library
Ethics and Computing - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
Ethics and Computing - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
Rights Con - Tunisia
Rails Girls Salvador - Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
Global Fact 6 - Cape Town, South Africa
The 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL) - Florence, Italy
Media Party and Media Party Hackathon - Buenos Aires
Kenya Census Workshops - Nairobi
Online News Association annual meeting - New Orleans
Data Trusts Workshop - Cambridge, UK
Riba de Âncora, Portugal
Turth and Trust Online - London, UK
Misinfocon London - London, UK
International Multimodal Communication Centre - Oxford, UK
Mozilla Festival - London, UK
20 Norwegian journalists & editors with Berkeley J-School - San Francisco, CA
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology - Onna, Japan
Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) - Hong Kong
MediaThon - Lima, Peru
Bread & Net - Beirut, Lebanon
Open Tech Fund Summit - Taipei, Taiwan
WikiConference North America 2019 - Boston, Massachussetts
Google News Initiative APAC Summit - Singapore
The History of Meedan - Oakland
Here are some important numbers that show how our year went:
We created a unique international dataset of claims and memes drawing from our diverse international partners. We collected the dataset from Egypt, Mexico, the Philippines, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Lebanon and Tunisia in more than 13 worldwide languages including Sawhili, Tagalog, Indian, French, Arabic, Bengali, Marathi, Urdu.
We are humbled by these quotes from our partners using Meedan’s tools in 2019.
It has been really great using and learning about Check, it is an awesome tool for fact checkers and researchers and individuals working in other fields.Achol Deng Bark Kenya Check Team
Check was the platform we used to collaborate on election day. We had our own CMS and our own platform, but it was lacking in terms of managing live fact checking. I think that was solved by Check. Without that I cannot imagine how we could have worked.Dhyatmika Check Indonesian Partner
Stories covering Meedan’s work in 2019.
"In general principles, memes contain a simple message overlayed with some visual image that might be miscontexualised or the text of the meme might contain misinformation - and that’s a common occurrence," Trewinnard said. "A lot of what we see are recycled video and images from past events and other countries that are used to claim to show something else, and even politicians do this."
A recent study from the Credibility Coalition and Health Feedback, a group of scientists who evaluate the accuracy of health media coverage, found the majority of the most-clicked health stories on Facebook in 2018 were fake or contained a significant amount of misleading information. The study looked at the top 100 health stories with the most engagements on social media, and it had a network of experts assess their credibility. The study found less than half were “highly credible.” Vaccinations ranked among the three most popular story topics.
في الجلسة ذاتها، قدّمت وفاء هيكل، مديرة البرنامج في منظّمة ميدان، أداة Check من تطوير المؤسّسة ذاتها، وهي أداة للتعاون في تقييم مصداقيّة أي محتوى إخباري بهدف الحد من الانتشار السّريع للشائعات والمعلومات الخاطئة. وذكرت بأنّ الأداة تعمل على التحقّق من الصّور والميمات أيضاً، حيث تمكّن المستخدمين من القيام ببحث عكسي للصور (Reverse Image Search) وهي عمليّة رفع صورة معينّة للبحث في مواقع، وتواريخ، وسياقات نشرها (أو صور شبيهة بها) سابقاً. وفي مجال الاستقصاء في مصداقيّة المحتوى البصري، نوّهت هيكل بأهميّة النّظر في السياق الكُلّي حول صورة ما، وعدم الاكتفاء بتفحّص محتوى الصّورة ذاتها. فيمكن النّظر مثلاً إلى: موقع نشرها، النّسبة إلى المصوّر(ة)، الشّرح أو التعليق أدنى الصورة، وكذلك التمعّن فيما إذا كان هناك أي تعديلات مصطنعة في الصورة ذاتها عن طريق البحث عن تغييرات بصريّة غير طبيعيّة في الألوان، أو معالم المكان، أو الإضاءة مثلاً.
“Global digital journalism needs better tools for real-time news,” said Ed Bice, Meedan CEO & co-founder. “In our increasingly interconnected world, the most pressing real-time news is captured and shared by citizens, journalists, government officials and anyone with a social media account. Increasingly, this content is being distributed on messaging channels. Verifying and responding to this content requires new forms of journalism, supporting technologies, and focused collaboration at national levels.”
"Montage is an advanced YouTube search. It allows you to search by date, and also by place if you want — though not a lot of YouTube content is geotagged. But, a little bit like SAM Desk, it also allows you to collect videos into projects and to comment and put tags on them, and at at specific moments in the videos as well. It allows you to organize YouTube content and zoom in on the details as a team. And that’s quite useful, especially if you’re doing historical investigations; so much content from the Arab Spring, for instance, is uploaded onto YouTube."
Then, Katherine Lo joins the hosts to discuss how Facebook’s redesign will change how we communicate on the platform. She leads the content moderation team at a nonprofit called Meedan, which works with journalists on disinformation. While we talk a lot about how large social networks are governed—and misgoverned—it’s less frequent that we talk about how these platforms are designed, and how that can lead to toxic behavior.
The Tsek.ph collaborative fact-checking project was launched at the University of the Philippines (UP) on Monday, February 11, the eve of the 2019 campaign period. The project aims to combat false news and other forms of disinformation in the lead‐up to the May 2019 polls. Among those that will be fact-checked are statements and campaign promises of candidates, personalities, government agencies, and other entities, as well as election‐related posts on social media, blogs, and other online platforms. Tsek.ph is supported by the Facebook Journalism Project and technology provider Meedan.
Writing in The Atlantic last August, Nat Gyenes and An Xiao Mina described how online misinformation can fuel epidemics such as Ebola virus disease and measles. They called such outbreaks “misinfodemics.” As Gyenes explains for Harvard Public Health, the conventional public health responses will not be enough to stem these modern digital plagues.
Checkpoint Tipline was launched to address the issue of fake news during Lok Sabha elections in India, April 2019. It allowed WhatsApp users to submit uncertain information or rumours they have received on Whatsapp. It supported Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Malyalam in addition to English. It helped fact-checking rumors in the form of pictures, video links and text messages.
The WhatsApp tip line called Checkpoint lets the service’s 200 million users in India send messages, photos, links and videos in four Indian languages and English to be fact checked at a verification center that will declare them to be true, false, misleading or disputed. Checkpoint was unveiled the day after a long story in The New York Times described a flood of fake posts and hate speech in India that has already led to violence and risks disrupting elections.Jill Goldsmith Forbes
“The goal of this project is to study the misinformation phenomenon at scale,” Proto’s founders Ritvvij Parrikh and Nasr ul Hadi said in a statement. “As more data flows in, we will be able to identify the most susceptible or affected issues, locations, languages, regions, and more.” The new service, dubbed Checkpoint Tipline, can receive messages in the form of images and video as well as text in English and four regional languages, it added. Checkpoint is a research project commissioned by WhatsApp.Sai Sachin Ravikumar Reuters
WhatsApp said the tip line initiative would “help contribute to the safety of the elections … and deter people from sharing rumors that have no basis in fact,” it added. “It would also create a database of rumors to study misinformation during elections” the company added.Rishi Iyengar CNN
We are pleased to share our financial report for 2019.