UNDP-accredited fact-checking platform launched ahead of general elections

Published January 10, 2024
The launch of the iVerify fact-checking platform in Islamabad on Wednesday. — CEJ-IBA
The launch of the iVerify fact-checking platform in Islamabad on Wednesday. — CEJ-IBA

Ahead of general elections on February 8, a non-partisan fact-checking tool was launched at a ceremony held in Islamabad on Wednesday to “advance the scope of independent and unbiased reporting in the country’s journalistic landscape”.

Named iVerify, the platform is the creation of the Centre of Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), is internationally accredited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and “successfully implemented” in many countries, according to its press release.

The launch was followed by a panel discussion by senior media professionals, including Mansoor Ali Khan, Zahrah Mazhar, Farhad Jarral, Absa Komal, Umer Cheema, and Nizam Salarzai, who “dissected the utility of a fact-checking tool in a high-stakes journalism environment”.

“Given the potentially volatile nature of newsrooms during election transmissions anticipated during the incoming general elections, the panel agreed that the tool shall prove to play a critical role in curbing the spread of misinformed news stories and making space for responsible, careful journalism.”

Describing the iVerify tool, the press release said it offered “one of the few robust verification approaches” for journalists with an emphasis on eliminating bias, authenticating facts, and processing news articles through manual examination.

It further said the tool allows journalists and media professionals to submit their stories via iVerify’s portal where they are “gauged through a multi-pronged approach comprising of data-driven and language-based evaluation before being verified for accuracy in terms of factual representation and contextualisation”.

Outlining the platform’s mission statement, the press release said iVerify aimed to “empower voters with verified and reliable information, fostering a transparent electoral process and a well-informed electorate.

“In an era where misinformation and disinformation can have profound consequences on trust in the democratic process, or violence, iVerify is dedicated to upholding the principles of accuracy, transparency and integrity in elections.”

Speaking at the launch, CEJ-IBA Director Amber Shamsi said the tool would be an important step in ensuring transparent and verifiable news reporting and investigation methodologies.

“Seeing the rise of misinformation in both digital and conventional media spaces, the fact-checking mechanism established by iVerify shall become a cornerstone of reliable, non-partisan journalism in Pakistan,” the press release quoted her as saying.

The World Economic Forum earlier today said misinformation and disinformation driven by artificial intelligence ahead of elections in major economies are the biggest global risks this year and the next.

“Misinformation and disinformation are biggest short-term risks, while extreme weather and critical change to Earth systems are greatest long-term concern,” the organisation’s Global Risks Report 2024 report said.

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