The Team

Behnaz Derakhshani
Simon Heuschkel
Ludwig Schubert
Heiko Damaske

Partner

This challenge was submitted and supported by Deutsche Welle.

Problem & Approach

Disinformation is one of the big challenges for everyone.
The motivation to produce and share disinformation differs – profit, political influence, propaganda, satire especially ahead of elections. Due to social media, information is being spread in real-time and very fast. It is a challenge for journalists to keep up and for every consumer to know how to verify it. But it is not impossible to “fight back” – it is possible to fight disinformation. For journalists, this methodology is not rocket science. It is just a digital toolset they rely on to find out if for example a picture shared online was manipulated or not. Open source intelligence gives access to the information we all need to verify an item and to see what, when, where it happened and who created the image. But we are missing a suitable mobile app that supports not only journalists in their work but everyone. We want to find a solution that supports debunking while on the fly.

Deutsche Welle launches service for mobile devices to identify
disinformation in social media posts.

Berlin – June 7, 2019 – Teenagers, now have the possibility to get notified when they are exposed to disinformation while using their favorite social media apps with the opportunity to get details why the content is not trustworthy.

Nowadays, teenagers use social media apps mostly to get news updates, read interesting stories, connect to their friends or check up on their favorite celebrities. But oftentimes these young people have a hard time identifying disinformation on these platforms, leaving them unaware of the influence it has on their beliefs and actions. Therefore, it opens up the question how to enable teenagers to identify disinformation in social media apps.

For easy adoption of the service, it is important to conveniently integrate it with the social media apps teenagers are already familiar with. While our app runs silently in the background, users will get a push notification when disinformation is found in their feed. By clicking on the
notification, users are redirected to our app where they can find more details. These show how this content was manipulated for example tampered pictures, false statistics or statements.Additionally, the right source of information is being displayed. With this approach teenagers are less prone to disinformation while raising their awareness about the effects of it. It can also prevent teenagers from accidentally sharing something that is not true. In terms of data protection, the app is compliant with GDPR. Only the untrustworthy posts will be saved and shared with third parties. However, your social media login information will be securely stored and not be shared with anyone.

“The students’ idea to tackle one of the most pressing information challenges for teenagers is both bold and encouraging. Let’s see that social media platforms make use of it.” Said Stephan Gensch, Innovation Manager at Deutsche Welle (DW).

Once the user downloads our app, they will feel more comfortable browsing social media, even though our app will not directly change their experiences. Instead, it notifies the user about the trustworthiness of the content they see. The app displays information about the suspicious post by giving a rough indication of the likelihood of the post being disinformation. Moreover, users have the option to further educate themselves.
Because teenagers are rarely sceptical enough to check the content they see, our app inspects their social media feed in the background. This lean design of our app, aims to empower teenagers to identify truths in social media platforms without interrupting the experiences they enjoy.

“I simply downloaded this app, and now I get notified of all the fake news I see in my feeds. Last week, I saw a post about an attack where 12 people died. I got afraid that something similar could happen to me. But I got notified that this was fake news. This made me feel a lot safer. I am now much more aware of how much fake news is out there. On the app, I can learn even more about why this particular post is bad. Since then, I feel I cannot be fooled anymore.” – Sara, 14 years old, Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Gymnasium Berlin

Teenagers who want to test the app and become more aware of the disinformation they are exposed to, can download the app on “Google Play Store” and “Apple App Store” for free.

FAQ

Where can I download the app?
You can download the app on “Google Play Store” and “Apple App Store” for free.

Which phones are supported?
We support Apple and Android phones.

How much does the application cost?
The app we provide is free and will stay free.

Where do I get support?
If you have questions about technical issues or any other questions which you cannot find in our FAQ you can simply contact us through our website.

How do you deal with my data/ social media feed information?
While you are scrolling your social media feed we will identify disinformation in the background. ONLY the posts we detected as untrustworthy will be saved and shared with third parties. However, your social media login information will be securely stored and not be shared with anyone.

Does using the app add to my screentime?
No, it does not require any input from your side. Only when you use our app to inform yourself about disinformation.

Do I need to have an internet connection for the app to work?
Yes.

Does it drain my battery?
While using social media app our app consumes an additional 2% per hour.

Does it use a lot of mobile data?
The app is optimized to minimize your data bandwidth, you can expect an additional 1% per mb that the social media app loads.

How old do I have to be to use the app?
Our app does not have any age restrictions. However, some social media platforms have age restrictions which our app relies on.