Sampa Chakrawati from Chokad village in Jharkhand lost her husband at a very young age and had to take the responsibility of raising her three small children. She started a dairy business to earn money and send her children to school. She started the business with one cow and slowly with the support of some government schemes she was able to expand her business. Apart from a few regular individual customers her major buyers are hotels. Along with the milk business she is also running a parallel business of paneer and ghee for extra income. She makes the paneer and ghee herself at home. Now that her children have grown up they are also helping in her business.
Sampa has joined DEF’s digital training course and along with learning about how to expand her business further using digital tools she has also learnt about the evils of fake news and misinformation. She has understood the importance of debunking fake news and has been fighting misinformation at the village level. During the Covid-19 pandemic fake news has proved to be an extremely dangerous phenomenon, often leading to negative emotions, vaccine hesitancy and in extreme cases even violence.
Tools have been developed for detecting fake news that spreads through social media and Sampa has been trained in these tools. She has become a village level fact-checker. There are many approaches used in detecting fake news: (a) language, (b) topic-agnostic, (c) machine learning, (d) knowledge based and (e) hybrid.
Sampa is capable of differentiating between genuine news and fake news and has been spreading awareness in her village about the evils of misinformation and how to identify it. She has been campaigning against WhatsApp forwards; people forward any information they receive without verifying it and this spreads panic and rumours.
Like in most rural parts of India people were hesitant about taking the vaccine in her village as well. There were rumours that the vaccine would make people more sick or kill them. However, Sampa was able to differentiate between genuine and fake news and she got herself and her family vaccinated. She even informed people around her about the importance of taking the vaccine.
Digital Empowerment Foundation has 1,000 SoochnaPreneurs (Information Entrepreneurs) across India who are fighting fake news and misinformation on a daily basis. Along with digitally empowering the community by providing access to e-governances, digital financial services, online education and access to basic information, these entrepreneurs have also become village level fact checkers.