Pune students develop fake news checker app

ST Correspondent
Thursday, 30 April 2020

Four students from AISSMS College of Engineering, Pune – Ankita Shinde, Rohan Dhiman, Shreyas Ghorpade and Swapnil Jawale have developed a fake-news checker web app.

Pune: Four students from AISSMS College of Engineering, Pune – Ankita Shinde, Rohan Dhiman, Shreyas Ghorpade and Swapnil Jawale have developed a fake-news checker web app.

The students had participated in a 72-hour online hackathon ‘CODE19 online hackathon against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in India’ hosted by the US-based Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation. The students won the third prize worth Rs 2.27 lakh. Thousands of innovators and developers from India and abroad competed online from the comfort of their homes to create open-source solutions against the health crisis faced across the nation.

Their winning entry, the COVID19 Fact Checker web app that uses authentic government, scientific, and public health information to bust misinformation and fake news about the pandemic.

Shinde, 21, student of AISSMS College of Engineering, said, “The world was unaware of the pandemic. To make matters worse, there has been a spurt in the online circulation of fake news, rumours and misinformation about it, misleading people and creating unnecessary panic. To curb this phenomenon, we developed a web app.”

Dhiman, 21, said that smartphones and social media platforms can spread misinformation about COVID very quickly among the masses. “The fact-checker can be accessed online by anyone from anywhere in the world. Users can input any piece of information or news related to the pandemic into this online solution,” Dhiman said. 

“The web app’s machine-learning algorithm can instantly verify whether it is genuine or not, by referencing a data-set of authentic information that is updated constantly at the backend. We hope this solution will go a long way to restrict the spread of fake news,” he added.

Asha Motwani, the founder of Motwani Jadeja Family Foundation, said, “A community of hackers and mentors, especially young students from all parts of the country, came together to enable India’s fight against Coronavirus. I believe the qualitative, open-source projects created at this hackathon would help mitigate the impending corona-inflicted challenges in India.”

The first prize of Rs 7.64 lakh was bagged by Abhinand C and Shilpa Rajeev of Government College of Engineering in Kannur, Kerala-- for their ‘iClassroom’-- that involved a modern virtual classroom for the millennial generation. Manipal Institute of Technology students won the second prize of Rs 3.74 lakh for enabling remote diagnosis of COVID-19 patients to reduce the risk of infection for healthcare workers-- called ‘TeleVital’.

It was held in collaboration with TiE Mumbai, IAMAI Startup Foundation, Mumbai Angels Network, Association of Designers of India, Stumagz and GirlScript. The event had three academic institutions as partners – National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad), IIT Kharagpur, and Centre for Entrepreneurship - Ashoka University.

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