Hacking a Solution to Fake News!

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Fake news may be a growing scourge but a team of SUTD students is raring to stamp it out!

After their impressive performance at the Fake News Must Die Hackathon jointly organized by the Media Literacy Council, Google, NUS and SUTD in October 2017, a team of energetic freshmores is bringing their award-winning idea to fruition. Their three pronged concept comprising a natural language processing based algorithm that assigns a legitimacy score to all news reports, a browser extension that users can click on to check the legitimacy score of individual articles, and a Reddit-style discussion forum for trained volunteers to verify the authenticity of news reports wowed the judges. Their concept was praised for its comprehensiveness, user-friendliness and strong public education value. Needless to say, they won the top prize, beating out over 90 teams from all the tertiary institutions in Singapore.

TEAM ‘HELLO WORLD’: (Clockwise from top left) Khong Jia Wei, Fariha Ahsan, Tong Hui Kang, Timothy Liu Kaihui and Brandon Ong

Since then their idea has grown into an Undergraduate Research Opportunity (UROP) under the guidance of Head of HASS, Professor Lim Sun Sun and ISTD Assistant Professor, Dr Lu Wei. The team has also expanded well beyond the original competition team to include other equally passionate students from the junior and senior years too! The UROP is also being supported by Google which is providing a team of engineers to offer the students feedback and advice on their proposed solutions and project milestones.


Another possible project in the pipeline is a mobile news verification app for journalists and reporters. In this regard, 3 of the UROP team members headed to a hackathon in February 2018 organized by Google Jakarta to participate and learn from that experience.



Our intrepid Jakarta-bound team: Lionell Loh, Jeremiah Juanputra and Timothy Liu Kaihui


Through this UROP, our students are learning a great deal about the nature of media content, news production cycles, the media ecosystem, media representations, linguistic structures and how all these dimensions must be taken into account in the algorithms and systems they are developing.

Certainly a fine showcase of SUTD’s exciting ‘learning without borders’ and ‘learning by doing’ approach!