Sniffing out Fake News with WatchDog


Following the aftermath of the bombings that took place last Sunday in Sri Lanka, everyone is on edge. This is not made easier with the plethora of “information” and “news” going around. We’ve seen how destructive the effects of Fake News can be. The simple act of forwarding an unverified message to a friend can snowball and have disastrous effects. So how do we separate what’s real from what’s fake? Well, that’s what WatchDog aims to do.

You would have probably seen at least one of these messages in the past few days

Separating fact from fiction with WatchDog

The main interface of Watchdog is divided into two sections. They are “Verified” and “Fake News”. Each individual news alert is given one of 3 symbols. A yellow X within a circle means that the news is fake. A red exclamation mark within a circle means that the news is an important verified alert. Lastly, a green tick within a circle means the news is verified and true.

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That being said, if you’re still unsure of what WatchDog has to say, you can click each news alert and see for yourself. Depending on the source of the news alert, it will either be a Tweet or linked to a news website. Each news article also includes the name of the person or entity that submitted the news alert along with the date and time of the alert as well.

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In our findings, we found the app to be quite accurate. WatchDog was actually pretty quick to debunk popular “theories” that were spread in Whatsapp and Facebook as fake. The app is updated at regular intervals with the latest in both verified and fake news. This allows you to stay on top of the game and help stop the spreading of fake news.

Sniffing out fake news isn’t easy

Sorting through cyberspace and curating news isn’t easy. Verifying what’s true and what’s fake is an even bigger challenge. The team at WatchDog use a number of verified sources to make sure that all news they receive is correct. Currently, these sources are Azzam Ameen, Roel Raymond, Marianne David, News 1st and Derana

The WatchDog team process all news they receive via WhatsApp and Twitter to fact check against what these five sources have tweeted or published. If there is no credibility in a message, the team will then refer to secondary sources and also look for images. Once 3 or more credible sources confirm the message, it is pushed to the WatchDog app with a related in-app symbol.

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This is just the beginning for WatchDog

In addition to updating news to both verified and fake news categories, the team is also hard at work working on an iOS app. The app has been developed and they are currently waiting on Apple to publish it on the App Store. There is also a website that has been set up as well. Furthermore, they are working on delivering WatchDog in Sinhala and Tamil as well. At the time of publication, news is available in both English and Tamil with Sinhala content being updated equally fast.

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All in all, the team behind WatchDog are doing an impressive job in keeping citizens updated about what news is real and what is fake. Efforts like this are highly effective at curbing fake news. It also increases awareness of people as well. If you want to get in touch with WatchDog, you can send them a message on Instagram.

If you are unable to find the WatchDog app on the Google Play Store, you can click here to download it. We will be updating this article with the iOS link and any further updates to the app as well.

Have you used WatchDog? What do you think about it? We would love to hear from you.


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