Anti-fake news hackathon makes PH stop, seeks participants

A group of independent local youth leaders and professionals has started the “Break the Fake Movement”, an organization that aims to engage the public, especially the youth, through technology-driven media literacy events to combat fake news.

“Fake news is one of the most pressing issues facing the world today. It will take the ingenuity of our youth, combined with the power of technology, to put an end to this trend. We wanted to give them a forum to realize their solutions and mobilize them into action,” said Gabriel Billones, the lead organizer of Break the Fake Movement.

For this year, the organization launched the “Break the Fake Hackathon”, a three-city event that challenges programmers and developers to create systems that will help institutions battle disinformation.

Filipino students and professionals will have the chance to join the competition and showcase their talents on August 17 at Solutions Space in Makati City, where the top three winning teams will have the chance to go home with P10,000, P5,000, and  P5,000 respectively.

The event first made its stop in Jakarta, Indonesia in June and held the second outing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in July. The Manila leg is the last stop of the event.

Participants are encouraged to develop a multitude of possible solutions for fake news, including everything from an online database of fake news sites and an anti-fake news content portal to more niche solutions, like an app that identifies whether an applicant’s credentials are true or a mapping tool that maps traffic sources of a social sentiment in an online platform.

Devcon, an organization dedicated to professionalizing Filipino IT professionals, has partnered with Break the Fake for the hackathon.

“Many people associate innovation with just websites and apps. But technology is so much more than that. Just as the previous generation of innovators has worked to keep our data, privacy, and identify safe from cyber criminals, the next will be tasked with ensuring the integrity of our news and information. We’re proud to encourage solutions in this endeavor,” said Devcon founder and president Winston Damarillo, who is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Amihan Global Strategies.

The winning teams from each of the three cities will then compete in the Grand Hackathon that will be held on the second week of September in Manila, where they will have the chance to win P100,000 worth of prizes.

The winners will also be given opportunities to pitch their programs to potential investors, visit the country offices of some of the region’s biggest companies, and get mentorship from local entrepreneurs and professionals, and consultancy from marketing and events management company, Ambidextr.

The Hackathon was made possible through the grant awarded by the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Seeds for the Future program of the US government, in cooperation with Cultural Vistas. Launched in 2013, YSEALI is the signature program of the United States to strengthen youth leadership in the region.

The “Break the Fake Hackathon” was among the 21 winners of the small grants competition, where they received grants ranging from $4,000 to $15,000. The winners emerged as most deserving from the 400 applications the organization received in Southeast Asia.

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