StopReflectVerify.com, a newly launched portal in Kenya wants to be Africa’s biggest internet-based quiz focused on COVID-19 misinformation.
With over 100,000 total cases in Kenya as of February 2021 and over 80,000 recoveries and over 1,700 deaths, StopReflectVerify.com aims to end the myths and untruths about COVID-19 in Africa especially as the ‘second wave’ of the COVID-19 pandemic looms.
According to Mark Kaigwa, Founder and Team Leader of StopReflectVerify.com, “Messaging apps such as WhatsApp play a fundamental role in the spread of news and information but have also been taken over with misinformation and disinformation related to COVID-19. With StopReflectVerify.com we are aiming to create thousands of Kenyans, and Africans at large, committed to spotting false news and misinformation and challenging their colleagues, friends, and loved ones to stop, reflect, and verify before sharing.”
In Kenya, the phrase ‘sent as received’ is used to deny responsibility for sharing unverified information, StopReflectVerify.com quiz, with research and evidence from over 20 frontline doctors in 7 counties and over 100,000 social media data points related to COVID-19, the portal is a critical resource in battling the spread of misinformation on internet and social media platforms.
StopReflectVerify.com has also received insights from fact-checking initiatives AfricaCheck.org and PesaCheck.org. The US Embassy in Kenya provided a grant for the project, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided guidance and advice.
Eric Watnik, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Nairobi, “Here in Kenya, over 50 years of support from the United States for health providers and health systems have provided the foundation for Kenya’s ability to surveil, trace, test, and treat patients to combat COVID-19. With over 60 billion Kenyan shillings in annual support, the United States is by far the largest international donor in Kenya’s health sector.” He continued
“As COVID numbers continue to surge both here in Kenya and the United States, we continue to see the threat of misinformation which continues to persist online and offline. Digital citizens with access to the internet put their trust in friends and family found on chat apps and social media platforms. StopReflectVerify.com is focused equipping everyone with learning about misinformation and disinformation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, test our knowledge on the relevant facts and figures related to COVID and its response and also have an interactive learning experience in public health education.”
Conceptualized in April 2018 by Kenyan digital strategist Mark Kaigwa in collaboration with the US Embassy, StopReflectVerify.com aims to increase media literacy and minimize the spread of misinformation on the African continent. The website was launched under the Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI) and their #YALIChecks month-long program in 2018.
The quiz was launched to the +100,000 YALI members on the continent covering issues such as politics, health, job-seeking, and mainstream media in Kenya and Nigeria and other markets. In 2020, the platform shifted its focus on COVID-19 and will continue to sensitize the public about COVID-19 and help to test knowledge of what is true and false especially during the ‘second wave’ of the pandemic.