Developer creates novel feature to end fake news sharing

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Santos okottah.

With the coronavirus pandemic has come with a load of information, both authentic and fake.

Just a few weeks ago, it  was reported that 600 people had died, and 3,000 ended up in hospital in Iran after drinking neat alcohol in the false belief it cures the coronavirus.

While this may not be the only case of people doing the extraordinary to manage or deal with the infection, it is certainly evidence that there is an information gap around truths surrounding cure and management of the virus.

Against this background, Santos Okottah, a Kenyan tech entrepreneur, developed an easy-to-use artificial intelligence-based branding and communication solution called The Brand to reduce the risk of both individuals and organisations sharing false information.  

The platform’s most useful and unique feature is Mix and Match, an information management tool that can programmatically sieve out credible information and minimise misinformation.

Okottah and his team of developers created it to quickly isolate news and information from credible sources on social media including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and serve it to social media users. 

Suspicious sources

“This will reduce the probability of hitting the share button every time a user comes across information by flagging suspicious data and untrusted sources,” he says.

The Brand, once customised, will easily connect to social media and create personalised, branded, engaging and informative content relevant to a specific search in simple steps. 

With the Mix and Match feature, users are able to select credible sources around their topic of interest and it tags related sources often quoted.

For example, it can tag sources such as World Health Organisation, Ministry of Health Kenya and key government spokespersons and intelligently combine user generated content with content from these set sources to create a stream of sharable reliable information.

That way, users of the platform are exposed to credible sources, reducing risk of sharing fake news.

The feature is particularly useful for individuals, especially influencers and Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises who cannot afford to pay a graphic designer to brand all their online content. 

“It can do in three seconds what a designer would do in 15 minutes. Besides making it easy for content sharing, the Mix and Match feature helps companies and individuals stand out online by increasing engagement on their posts by at least 30 per cent,” adds Okottah.

Tech issue

Initially developed to specifically tackle misinformation about Covid-19, Mix and Match has since proven useful even for organisations wishing to communicate about any other topic.

It uses content, photos and design via a simple interface that only requires basic computer knowledge. 

Although social media sites have already put in place measures to reduce exposure of misleading and harmful posts, users still take content from credible sources and spokespeople to create memes, video cuts, transitions, remixes or adaptions and sharing that content with friends, whether for the right reasons or not. 

Okottah says online misinformation is a technology issue that requires a technological solution.

He says the Internet is available to everyone, therefore brands and individuals will have to find more innovative ways to stand out online by ensuring their content is always factual, engaging and attractive and easily help users weed out fake news.

“The realisation that we are living in an online world fueled by 4G and lower barriers to acquisition of smartphones means content is shared without oversight or intervention and the outcomes can have grave consequences on users and recipients.

Innovation and artificial intelligence have never been more important to help deal with the problem of misinformation.

The tech sector must step up and help both individuals and organisations properly manage information and build a trustworthy online ecosystem. That is what the Brand has tried to do using its platform,” says Okottah.

He says users can design marketing material such as letter heads and business cards to be used off and online, instantly brand social media posts or ads for sharing and printing, broadcast social media posts to communicate with other users online.  

“This is a one-stop solution for businesses and SMEs to get noticed, tell powerful visual stories in the form of engaging posts, presentations, infographics and other visual content.

Individual users can access the platform online for free, while SMEs will need to pay only Sh 1,000 per month and larger corporates Sh10,000 per month”.

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