Team with solution that tracks fake news sites wins hackathon

A team composed of graduates from the country’s top universities won the “Break the Fake” hackathon held on August 17 at American Corner in De La Salle University Manila.

First place winner Team Troglodyte composed of Carlos Nazareno, Dominic Ligot, and Nikko Torcita (in white shirts) with the judges, event organizers, and sponsors

Team Troglodyte composed of Carlos Nazareno, Dominic Ligot, Nikko Torcita, who are graduates from Ateneo de Manila University, University of the Philippines Diliman, and De La Salle University Manila, respectively, was awarded the champion’s purse of P10,000.

The team was able to create a network graph to track purveyors of disinformation by mapping out the relationships of fake news websites with each other. The team also brought their prototype that they showed the judges during their pitch.

“The network graph proposed by Team Troglodyte is truly innovative. By mapping out the web of fake news sites which have figurative and literal links to one another. We can also begin to separate these sources from legitimate outlets and publications. Separating the two will undoubtedly lift the quality of public discourse,” said Sofia Galve, a co-founder of Ambidextr, one of the partners for Break The Fake.

Each team only had five minutes to pitch their creation, and had three minutes to answer questions from the judges.

The other winners, Team Git Stash and Team GigaMike, won second and third places, respectively. Each was awarded with a P5,000 cash prize.

Team Git Stash created a Web browser extension that bridged the gap between users and fact-checking organizations, while Team GigaMike created an app that gives bloggers a badge that detects fake news.

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

Participants were 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, partnered with Break the Fake for the hackathon.

The winning teams from each of the three cities will compete in the Grand Hackathon that will be held on the second week of September in Philippines, 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.

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