Bytedance-backed news app BaBe collaborates with Indonesian media to fight hoaxes

False news is a serious problem in Indonesia, especially ahead of the general election.

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Bytedance-backed news app BaBe collaborates with Indonesian media to fight hoaxes

Facebook has been in the spotlight with efforts to combat fake news, but the problem affects other social apps, too. BaBe, an Indonesian news aggregator that’s backed by China’s ByteDance, launched a new channel called BaBe Ungkap Fakta (BaBe Reveals Facts) as an effort to deliver verified, fact-checked content to readers. For this channel, BaBe collaborates with local media outlets VIVA and Tempo, as well as with the Indonesian Anti-Defamation Society (Mafindo).

BaBe claims that it crawls at least one million articles every month from various media sources and therefore pays close attention to viral news that are potentially hoaxes.

The new channel has a fact-checking team in charge of filtering content, which means it only contains verified news that’s of “public interest and potentially viral”. According to BaBe, the app has already implemented a technology-based screening system for all its other content, but the human assessment in its new channel adds an extra layer of security.

False news is a serious problem in Indonesia, especially now that the country is coming up for general elections in April. Social networks and chat apps like WhatsApp are often misused to spread misinformation intended to discredit political candidates. Creators of fakes news can face up to six years in prison in Indonesia. Not long ago, the Indonesian IT Minister had a meeting with WhatsApp’s executive to discuss this issue. WhatsApp said it would improve its capabilities to identify and block accounts linked to spreading fake news. One of the changes WhatsApp made is that it now only allows messages to be forwarded to five recipients. The feature became effective in Indonesia on January 22.

Editor: Nadine Freischlad