Checkdesk: A toolkit for fact-checking social media

Checkdesk is an open source application designed to enable open and participatory investigative journalism for professional newsrooms in the Arab region.

In our era, real-time social media traditional newsrooms are struggling to find a balance between engaging with these real-time conversations and doing ‘serious’ investigative journalism. Checkdesk is a design response to this challenge.

Checkdesk enables our media partners to work collaboratively with networks of citizen journalists to curate, fact-check, and contextualize social media content as it is being published. Checkdesk facilitates a new form of open, evidence-based journalism and makes possible civic participation in the process.

Checkdesk is designed and developed by the globally minded team at Meedan; working from San Francisco, Cairo, Vancouver, London, Beirut, and Brazil. Checkdesk is a multi-year project combining research and open curriculum development with our University partner Birmingham City University, open curriculum development and trainings with a set of community media initiatives, and content creation through a growing network of regional media partners.

How does the technology work?

Checkdesk provides a complete fact-checking workflow for the digital newsroom. With Checkdesk, you can:

  • quickly gather citizen media reports (youtube videos, tweets, blog posts) using a bookmarklet
  • embed and cross-reference these citizen media reports in story pages
  • assign customizable verification statuses to each embedded citizen media report (such as ‘in review’ or ‘verified’)
  • annotate the citizen media report with fact-checking footnotes, providing a transparent history of scrutiny applied to investigate it which readers can engage with
  • share out the work you do as a shortlink or embed

Who are our project partners?

We are developing Checkdesk with media partners in the Arab region, including Mada Masr (Egypt), Al Manassa (Egypt), Welad El Balad (Egypt), SMEX Social Media Exchange (Lebanon), Global Voices (MENA team), and Bellingcat (UK). Our research and curriculum partner on the project is Birmingham City University. The project has been funded by the Arab Partnerships Fund, Sida, The Knight Foundation (Checkdesk won a 2014 News Challenge Award), and the International Press Institute (Checkdesk won a 2012 IPI Innovation Award). You can read more on our blog.