Bayanat Box, in partnership with UNDP Lebanon, funded by Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW) and supported by SMEX (Social Media Exchange), held the first edition of ‘Bala Fabrakeh’ hackathon at Beirut Digital District on Saturday, June 22, 2019.

The Hackathon aimed at countering fake news and the spread of false information across the internet, media and among the public.

‘Bala Fabrakeh’ participants came from various backgrounds and disciplines to create prototypes for innovative digital solutions to detect and/or raise awareness about fake news in the digital space. They engaged in an open discussion about fake news and shared their opinion on ways to counter it. The participants had the option of participating in one of two paths: practical solutions for the public to combat fake news, and practical solutions for journalists and media personnel in general.

‘Bala Fabrakeh’ kicked off with introductory remarks from UNDP Lebanon and Bayanat Box; they both introduced the participants to the findings of their research on the state of fake news in Lebanon and the objectives of the hackathon.

“It is thrilling to see so many young and enthusiastic men and women, coming from different areas and backgrounds to take part in a Hackathon on fake news. It makes us very proud at UNDP to see the young generation not only interested in and worried about this phenomenon, but also engaged and willing to contribute to finding the best ways to minimize its effect on social stability”, said Tom Thorogood, Chief Technical Advisor Stabilization and Recovery Programme at UNDP, representing Mrs. Celine Moyroud, UNDP Resident Representative.

Later, the teams worked closely with mentors on identifying a real-life problem facing either the public (consumers of media) or journalists in their work. Afterward, the teams presented the problem they aim to find a solution to and shared why they believe it must be fixed.

Following the presentations of the problems, each team started working on their prototype before presenting their project before a panel of judges, who based their evaluation on innovation, feasibility and impact.  

The judging panel consisted of members from Bayanat Box, UNDP Lebanon, Agence France Presse (AFP), IJNet, and SMEX.

After a series of deliberations between the panel members, they decided that team ‘team4’ is the winner. ‘team4’ developed a concept for an internet browser plugin-in which allows users to flag and identify fact-checked stories on social media.  The winning team received $1000 as an incentive to continue developing their project for the future.

The hackathon was met with great enthusiasm from the participants, as they have all benefited from the networking opportunities that were presented.  

This hackathon is part of a broader collaboration between Bayanat Box and UNDP Lebanon, aiming to combat fake news and raise awareness to the fact-checking and responsible consumption of media, both online and offline. For more information, please check: Fakenews.bayanatbox.com


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