To help empower Indian internet users with skills to make them resilient to misinformation, and embrace responsible online behavior, Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, has announced it is providing a new grant of US$ 4 million (approx INR 32 crores) to support a nationwide awareness and capability building initiative by the India- headquartered Cybersecurity advocacy global non-profit CyberPeace Foundation. The grant will support the initiative in reaching over 40 million internet users across India, including underserved beneficiaries such as youth, women, rural communities, elderly, through trainings and community engagement programs.
Additionally, the grant will support a multilingual online resource center that will offer 650 hours worth of free multimedia content and learning materials on identifying and countering misinformation, and on developing responsible online content, in English and 15 Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Kannada, Odia (Oriya), Malayalam, Punjabi, Assamese, Maithili, Santali, Kashmiri. The online resource center will also include the establishment of helplines across states and regional clusters that will help identify misinformation and share advisories against them, as well as teams composed of experts in digital forensics, social media, and fact-checkers, providing real-time support to ecosystem stakeholders to contain the spread and public impact of new-age cyber threats and misinformation campaigns.
Explaining the initiative, Vineet Kumar, Founder of CyberPeace, said: “In an era in which digital is deeply intertwined with our lives, knowing how to discern, act on, and share the credible from the wealth of information available online is critical to our wellbeing, and of our families and communities. Through this initiative, we’re committing to help Internet users across India become informed, empowered and responsible netizens leading through conversations and actions. Whether it’s in fact-checking information before sharing it, or refraining from sharing unverified news, we all play an important role in building a web that is a safe and inclusive space for everyone, and we are extremely grateful to Google.org for propelling us forward in this mission with their grant support.”
Annie Lewin, Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Head of Asia Pacific, Google.org said: “We have a longstanding commitment to supporting changemakers using technology to solve humanity’s biggest challenges. And, the innovation and zeal of Indian nonprofit organizations has inspired us to deepen our commitment in India. With the new grant to CyberPeace Foundation, we are proud to support solutions that speak directly to Google’s DNA, helping first-time internet users chart their path in a digital world with confidence. Such solutions give us pride and hope that each step, built on a strong foundation of trusted information, will translate into progress for all.”
All the content developed and disseminated through this initiative will be informed by extensive field and secondary research on methods for encouraging responsible content creation, and on mechanisms and measures for effectively countering misinformation and online threats.
To scale and sustain the program’s impact, CyberPeace Foundation will leverage its strong track record in advocacy and stakeholder engagement to engage approximately 100 local ecosystem partners – including prominent educational institutions with strong programs in information technology and media studies, media organizations, government entities, international bodies, as well as other non-profits promoting internet safety and digital literacy – to cascade its content and resources across India.