Faux: Fighting fake news and hoaxes

One internet forward at a time

This is a concept for a fake-news fighting app my team and I designed at Design 360, IIIT Delhi’s overnight design hackathon in March 2017.

The problem

The news plays a pivotal role in influencing decisions for people. For readers accustomed to taking the news at face value, differentiating fake pieces of information from real news can be hard. While internet hoaxes are almost as old as the internet itself, fake news has recently become a much more pressing issue. The 2016 US elections were believed to be heavily influenced by rampant fake news stories, which employed clickbait style headlines and made up facts that were heavily shared across social media.

https://www.vice.com/sv/article/5gavex/this-man-has-proof-that-obama-is-gay
http://empirenews.net/president-trump-takes-away-citizenship-of-anchor-babies-children-born-in-the-u-s-to-illegal-immigrants/

The internet has made it possible for people in any corner of the Earth to create content that can be accessed by millions. The flip side is that anyone with a phone and a wifi connection can potentially make millions of people believe almost anything.

Whatsapp forwards

Whatsapp has over 200 million monthly active users in India. And if you’re on Whatsapp, you’ve almost certainly received messages like this from friends or family.

Whatsapp forwards range from scaremongering to phishing attempts to just plain bizarre.

Enough people believe these messages to forward them — I get a couple every day. After calling out fake news on the family group chat a lot, I’ve even become something of a fake news detector for my family.

I’ve seen this one going around since 2013.

Research

We looked up published research about fake news and also created an informal survey using Google forms. We came to the following conclusions:

  1. Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger are the most popular communication method, with a combined 85.7% of surveyed users claiming one of the two as their most used communication platforms.
  2. Most people ignore the fact that they are affected by fake news, even when more than half think they are affected by it daily.
  3. Most people use some form of a device connected to the internet to read news.
  4. A lot of people sometimes think a message might be fake, but often give it the benefit of doubt and send it anyway.

Our Goals

We had 3 goals for our solution.

1. Inform

Let people know if a suspicious message is real or fake. We wanted to emulate the ease of having a friend you can text to ask about a message, so any solution had to be at least that simple.

2. Educate

We wanted to also help users distinguish between real and fake news for themselves, and educate them about some general tips for spotting typical fake news patterns. Facebook has some great tips here.

3. Innoculate

According to a recent study, people can be inoculated against fake news by giving them small doses of misinformation which they know is false. As a secondary goal, we wanted to also show users fake news labelled as fake news.

Presenting Faux

Fighting fake news and hoaxes one internet forward at a time.

Chatbot

While the ideal experience would for users to be able to forward messages to a chatbot inside of Whatsapp, Whatsapp currently does not allow chatbots on it’s platform. Faux uses a Whatsapp-like chat interface where you can copy-paste a suspicious message and immediately get a response using a crowdsourced database and existing services like Snopes and Factchecker.in.

Fake or Not

Fake or not presents the challenge of identifying a news story as fake or real as a game. It displays a news article, and lets the user pick if they think it’s True or Fake. Getting something right increases the streak, passing does nothing, and getting something wrong will set the streak back to zero.

Trending

The Trending section presents a number of selected fake news stories the users can read about.

Prototype

After designing the app, we built a clickable InVision prototype to present our idea. You can test it out here — tap on the Faux icon to begin, then tap anywhere to proceed.

The Team

Team Zero designed Faux over a 24 hour period at Design 360, IIIT Delhi and eventually placed first.

Gyan Lakhwani, Design
Raghav Sarin, Ideation
Akshay Khandelwal, Video
Aditya Khandelwal, Development & Strategy