Factmata’s mission is to use artificial intelligence solve the problem of mistrust and misinformation in online content.
In November 2016, Factmata’s founder, Dhruv Ghulati received €50K from the Google Digital News Initiative to begin building a Google Chrome plugin that could scan online content for any misleading or inaccurate content.
I began working pro bono with Factmata shortly after in December 2016 and concluded my time with them in July 2017.
Inspired by recent political events, I was interested in exploring how design could power positive change, and felt personally compelled by the technology. At the time, I was the only designer and one of three people working on the project.
Problem: MISINFORMATION IS DANGEROUS
Manual fact-checking is struggling to compete with a highly robust and rapidly evolving enemy.
How it works
Factmata technology is able to use AI to dissect a statement and understand the claim within it. Understanding the technology powering Factmata was crucial for me as a designer. After grasping the implications of what Factmata was and what it could do, it was then my task to design a user interface that is unobtrusive, informative and most importantly, simple to use in front of a complex and very technical product.
Through interviews and observation, I explored how users consume the news and how they checked facts that they read online. Users said:
• "There are so many statistics getting thrown around all the time, it's so confusing and they could all be slightly-true, it's hard to know"
• "If I am just reading something from a source that I don't know of Facebook, I would probably research the subject and try to find it on a publication I read regularly and trust. I [do this] every couple of days"
When asked what could make the fact-checking experience better, the users expected:
• "I want to see how true something is for an article. Statistics would be a big thing"
• "I want to be able to verify quotes, see their context, and know what speech it is from originally”
Conclusion: Facts stated online can be confusing and there is no one easy way to check if they are right or not. A fact checker that could check statistics or show the context of certain statements would be useful for the user.
Because the Chrome plugin featured a lot of information, I made sure to test my designs regularly for comprehension.
In an effort to make an experience as simple as possible, I opted for a simple rating system that gave a grade for the webpage and then the overall news source It tested poorly because users wanted to be able to see sources for themselves.
From the user interviews and usability testing session, I then began prioritizing potential features. Users said they wanted to be able to see what claim was being contested, and what other sources said about the claim.
Prototype for fact-checking tool that presents facts for users to reference against as a seamless part of user’s browsing experience. Users could fact-check online content without needed to leave the webpage.
Google Chrome plugin Experience
Plugs directly into browsing experience
Locates and returns relevant source and correct information
Additional peer-to-peer verification via sharing and commenting
Detects and checks any written claim
After designing a Chrome plugin for a news reader, I explored other ways to expand Factmata’s product offering.
The technology could be used by news sources themselves so they could verify content before before publishing.
An assisted fact-checking referencing tool for newsrooms and subeditors so they could cite and add clickable references for their readers. This could stop misinformation in its track by preventing it from even being published.
A trust seal to be the most trusted and recognized brand for verified information.
Designing for Business Development
By accurately verify online information, Factmata could become a trusted brand for readers and an identifiable badge for truth.
Factmata Project Summary
With Factmata, I worked directly with the founder and watched the team and product grow. As the first designer on the project, I was given the freedom to establish what Factmata’s fact-checking tool could do, in addition to would look and feel like.
I felt personally compelled to contribute my time and design skills to Factmata as part of my pro bono work in addition to working full-time at American Express. Working with Factmata changed the direction of my career and made me feel that changing the world through design was not only possible but urgent. And it opened the door for me to begin focus on the social impact projects that I am building today.