New tippline aimed to combat pervasive spread of mis- and dis-information in South Asian American communities
Ahead of the Nov 8 midterm elections, Indian American Impact working to empower the community has expanded Desifacts, its program to combat mis- and disinformation, to include a WhatsApp tipline and chatbot.
“The South Asian community has long been underserved by interventions currently aimed at combating misinformation,” Neil Makhija, Executive Director of Indian American Impact Project, stated announcing the new service last week.
“The pervasive spread of mis- and dis-information in South Asian American communities, especially on end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, erodes trust in our democracy, stifles voter participation, and has tremendous consequences on health outcomes,” he stated.
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“Impact is committed to building trust with our community and voting base, and will continue to partner with Co-Insights’ advanced software to build out our new WhatsApp platform, chatbot feature and translation services,” Makhija said.
“As we scale up these efforts, we encourage our community to participate in the fight against this infodemic. Every submission and every report makes a difference in this fight,” he added.
Through the new tipline, South Asian communities can quickly share viral content with the Desifacts team and get it fact-checked on the spot or be notified once the team has looked through a claim, Indian impact stated.
Mis- and disinformation submissions to the WhatsApp tipline can include multimedia content. It will also offer transcription services for videos and images in English, Hindi, and Bangla with eventual plans to expand language services, it said.
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People can share and report any potential mis- or dis-information you find or receive online by sending a WhatsApp message to +1 202-240-8742.
Impact has launched the new service in collaboration with Meedan, “a global technology not-for-profit that builds software and programmatic initiatives to strengthen journalism, digital literacy and accessibility of information online and off.”
Meedan won a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support the not-for-profit’s Co-Insights project. This NSF funding will support the launch of Desifacts’ new tipline and chatbot.
“Their research-driven, community-led approach offers Asian American communities an opportunity to organize against mis- and disinformation in a targeted and thoughtful way, Makhija said.
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Earlier in September, the Impact Project team launched both www.desisvote.org and a voter registration social media toolkit.
Created in partnership with numerous local, state, and national nonprofits, desisvote.org contains a hub of resources for South Asian Americans, Asian Americans, and allies who want to exercise their right to vote and mobilize their own networks and communities to elevate their voices at the ballot box.
Indian Impact’s voter registration social media toolkit includes the following:
- Graphics to post on social media or forward on WhatsApp—a few of the graphics have translations in various South Asian languages, including state-specific graphics for Texas, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.
- Culturally relevant memes
- Videos on updating your voter registration on desisvote.org and encouraging others to vote
- Voter registration flyers to print created in collaboration with Chalo Vote!
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