Google announced today the launch of an open fund that aims to counter the spread of misinformation around COVID-19 vaccines worldwide. The fund is worth up to $3 million, courtesy of the Google News Initiative (GNI).
The COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund is meant to provide funding for projects that are intended to debunk misleading vaccine information by expanding the reach of fact-checked information. News organizations of all sizes can apply for the fund as long as they have "a proven track record in fact-checking and debunking activities" or have partnered with recognized fact-checking groups.
Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead at Google News Lab, wrote in a blog post that the changing nature of COVID-19 continues to spawn misinformation about the pandemic. While fact-checkers are working to fight misleading claims about this health crisis, global efforts to give COVID-19 vaccines to the public "is exacerbating a perennial problem of misinformation about immunization", Mantzarlis added.
Proposals will be reviewed by a team of 14 jury members from various sectors including academics, media, medicine, and non-profit. Representatives from the World Health Organization also form part of the jury.
Google said it will give priority to joint efforts that comprise an interdisciplinary team with "clear ways to measure success". This can include a collaborative project between a media organization and a group of doctors, for example. Applications for the fund are now open via this link.