First Check is a unique, collaborative, health fact-checking initiative by DataLEADS. It brings together journalists, doctors, researchers, data scientists and technologists from across the world on a common platform to help identify and combat medical misinformation, rumours and unscientific claims.
Since its inception in 2019, First Check has been actively creating collaborations to unite the medical community with the public and facilitating easy access to accurate health information. Our volunteer team of diverse experts investigate, research, and verify dubious claims and fake information related to health that are gaining momentum on the internet, including social media, and traditional media.
To fact-check any health-related information, you can write to us at email@example.com or WhatsApp us on +91 9311 223145. You can also subscribe to our WhatsApp channel to get all our health fact-check stories, timely explainers, and credible health information at your fingertips!
First check is a signatory of the IFCN code of principles. This includes a commitment to: non-partisanship and fairness, transparency of sources, transparency of funding and organization, transparency of methodology and an open and honest corrections policy. If you believe First Check has not respected the code of principles, you can directly inform the International Fact-Checking Network here.
The genesis of First Check dates back to 2015, when DataLEADS conducted its maiden boot camp, bringing together doctors and journalists, at the Government Medical College in Srinagar, a stunning remote valley in northern India.
Back then, the term ‘infodemic’ wasn’t a part of our vocabulary; health misinformation hadn’t made its place among the top global public health challenges. Even so, the boot camp gave us our first glimpse of a compelling collaborative initiative. What if we bring doctors and journalists together to make sense of health data and claims, and tell informative, insightful, and engaging health stories?
Our founding team comprising Syed Nazakat, an award-winning journalist, and Dr Sabba Mehmood, a medical practitioner, deliberated on the future of information consumption over a cup of tea. That conversation led to the conception of a data-driven platform.
Since then, we have had several fruitful conversations over countless cups of tea. Some brewed at the homes of our loved ones, some sipped in between meetings, some while replying to endearing emails, and many from tea machines across the world, introducing us to exciting stories, experiences, challenges, and opportunities.
DataLEADS has conducted boot camps in more than 10 Asian countries on data, fact-checking, and the changing health information landscape. Every such interaction has served as a gentle reminder of our immense human abilities, technological advancements, and the many possibilities in today’s world.
In 2019, First Check came into being – with the sole purpose of battling health misinformation, particularly on social media. As a health fact-checking initiative, it was ahead of its times, in many ways.
“How much harm can some innocuous, even if unscientific, health claims really cause?”
we were asked.
In 2020, the answer was loud and clear. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the world to an onslaught of false, misleading, dangerous claims about the efficacy of vaccines, conspiracy theories about the pandemic, immunity boosters, home remedies, and more.
First Check has been at the forefront in the fight against health misinformation, powered by its unique global collaboration with doctors, researchers, public health professionals, data scientists, technologists and journalists.
Our journey, so far, has been inspiring and rewarding. First Check was awarded the Fact Checking Innovation Initiative by Facebook Journalism Project and International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). In 2021, First Check became a verified signatory of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) Code of Principles, taking it a step forward in the fight against dis/misinformation.
The number of domain experts volunteering to be a part of our worldwide network continues to grow. However, health fact-checking is still a niche area, even as the surge of unscientific, unsafe health claims grows exponentially. Contrary to popular perceptions, the health misinformation problem didn’t perish at the end of the pandemic. It persists.
First Check is committed to addressing the many persistent challenges in combating health misinformation and exploring sustainable solutions for fostering a healthier information ecosystem.
Because health matters. facts matter.
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