2020 Annual Report

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.org and its financial health. Meedan.org 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.

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1. CEO's Note


In April 2018 Nat Gyenes bought a plane ticket to San Francisco. She wanted to come to the Meedan office to pitch a new vision for digital health literacy that she thought might resonate with our team. Nat had come to know our work through her fellow Berkman Fellow An Xiao Mina. We did not dream how surreal it might sound to simply get on a plane, go to an office, fill up a whiteboard in a room with other people, and ideate the future of the internet as a public health resource. Nor did we ever dream that just three years later everything that we took as hypothetical would play out into the world.

You see, what Nat came to SF to discuss was the creation of a Digital Health Lab at Meedan working on the issue of health misinformation fueling an epidemic, an idea that she and An would express in an August 2018 Atlantic piece entitled How Misinfodemics Spread Disease. We loved the idea so much that we submitted a grant to the RWJF Pioneer team to create a framework around the idea.

To an organization that identifies itself as a context company, any combination of words I might choose to come behind the phrase ‘2020 was’ is an exercise in self-defeating futility. We can say, though, without qualification that the year of the COVID-19 global pandemic and social reckoning with systemic racism and misinformation as a political ideology was horrible and difficult and heartbreaking.

‘2020 was’ also the context into which we were six months into delivering on a grant to RWJF. So, within a month of the announcement of the global pandemic, we transitioned from theory to practice, bringing in support from existing donors we assembled a remarkable woman-led and -staffed team to serve as a COVID-19 context and information response team for our global fact-checking and independent media partners.

Everything has changed in this last year. We have been sad, separated, and sick. But as a team, Meedan has also been given the opportunity to do work that helps people during a time of crisis. And, maybe this is the essential form of public healing — the instinct to try to help.

This has played out through all of our efforts. As the global impact of COVID-19 became more clear, the Check Global team made an extraordinary effort to route more than $45,000 of funds to microgrants for journalists and independent media organizations on five continents and support the COVID-19 Misinfodemic Report, which commissioned insights from top researchers and partners. We also developed the Beirut Response Fund to support independent media workers in Lebanon in the wake of the August 4 port explosion.

In 2020, our third-party fact-checking program with WhatsApp was just getting started when we pivoted operations almost entirely to focus on supporting our partners’ response to COVID-19 misinformation on private messaging platforms. We learned quickly that misinformation crosses borders and languages, and we grew Check, our collaborative verification and fact-checking tool, to support 5,700 fact-checks across 5 languages in our first implementation stage. This laid the groundwork for our efforts to build share fact-check databases and cross-lingual claim detection to help fact-checkers work both efficiently and effectively, regardless of the language they work in.

It is my job, generally, to end these annual letters on a hopeful note. But, this year, I write this as our teams in India and Brazil are suffering the very darkest days of their pandemic. So, I will only say that we must do better. Our people and our planet and our internets need to heal.


Woodacre, CA April 22, 2021

The enabling factor is something that all of us have to deal with as fact-checkers, and that factor is technology. We need to fight technology with technology. That’s the reason we’re here with Meedan.

Maria Ressa Maria Ressa Founder and CEO, Rappler; Board Member, Meedan

Mission Statement

Meedan is a technology not-for-profit that builds tools and develops programs to strengthen global journalism, digital literacy, and accessibility of information.

Event Highlights

March 02
Digital Humanities and NLP Workshop
April 03
Tech and Check 2020
May 05
Check Global Network Launch
June 18
Maria Ressa & Seema Yasmin: Reporting Barriers During COVID
June 24
Countering the COVID-19 Misinfodemic with Text Similarity and Social Data Science
July 29
National Academy of Sciences Presents: Addressing Health Misinformation Through Health Literacy Practices
September 18
SwitchPoint 2020: The Global Fund Virtual Switchpoint Exchange

2. In Numbers


Here are some important numbers that show how our year went:

Check Global

New languages
Bengali, Filipino, Hindi, Malayalam, Swahili and Telugu
Check reports
Total number of countries where Check is used so far on projects
At least 24; 9 countries used Check during elections and democratic transition
Open-source MOOCs created
People trained by Check Global partners
Number of organisations supported through NAWA Investigative Fund
Total funding of $49,650
Number of grassroot projects awarded
Through the Check Global Covid-19 Fund in NAWA, Latin America, East and Western Africa and the APAC region

The Check Global project has opened opportunities for VERA Files not only in refining our fact-checking process but also in involving more people in forwarding and making the discipline of verification relevant.

Merinette A. Retona Merinette A. Retona Researcher, VERA Files

Digital Health Lab

DHL Instagram Live Series
(NPS of https://learnaboutcovid19.org/ - now health-desk.org)
Number of responses published
Number of responses shared by partners

Can someone be infected with COVID-19 more than once?

How does COVID-19 differ from malaria?

Does wearing a mask reduce your oxygen level?

Does wearing gloves protect against or stop the spread of COVID-19?

How long is a person infected with COVID-19 contagious?

The database is super helpful; we use it constantly because our local experts might not know everything about COVID-19, and the database answers those questions.

Sean Ndlovu Sean Ndlovu Innovation and Research Manager at CITE

WhatsApp Third-Party Fact-Checking Program

*A conversation is defined as a unique interaction between an end user and a tipline bot. A conversation leads to one of three possible outcomes: A bot resource is consumed by the user after exploring the bot menus, the user submitted a fact-check query or the user remains inactive.
Claims matched
Unique end users
(This doesn’t mean they all got what they wanted, just that they interacted with the bot - also many users had more than one conversation)
Uniques claims
(Not in trash, not duplicate or similar)
Reports sent to users
(One user can receive more than one)
Bot resources sent
(One user can receive more than one)
Reports published
Number of partners in 2020 (Tiplines)
(2824 Trainees on open source investigation and misinformation monitoring)

We’ve been running a tipline for two years, and this is the tool we have been waiting for. One that can make the newsroom process of finding misinformation more efficient and automate the responses.

Jency Jacobs Jency Jacobs Newsroom Editor


Papers Published
Papers under Review

In just the last two months we have already found that Check has really been a force multiplier in being able to track down fake posts.

Ritu Kapur Ritu Kapur Founder and CEO
The Quint


People Trained


Commits pushed to 35 different code bases
Lines of code written

3. What are people saying


We are humbled by these quotes from our partners using Meedan’s tools in 2020.

We used to get inundated by the thousands of messages that people would send us on WhatsApp. Check has not only made it possible for us to sift through the fact-check requests quickly, it also helped deliver most of our readers with fast and personalized responses. This helps us build a direct bond of trust with our audience.

Balkrishna Balkrishna India Today


Stories covering Meedan’s work in 2020.

4. Financials


We’re pleased to share our financial report for 2020. These numbers come from audited financial statements, which are available upon request.


Contributions and Grants
Program service revenue
Other revenue
Total revenue


Program services
Check Global
Digital Health Lab
Credibility Coalition
Other program
Management and General
Total expenditures