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Meet the Japanese students whose hobby is fact-checking

Koya, Masataka and Rion are not your typical third-year Japanese law students. When they aren’t attending classes at Sophia University in Tokyo, they spend their time fact-checking online information. And they’re good at it —their team recently came first in the Google News Initiative (GNI) 2021 APAC University Verification Challenge, beating 267 other teams from…

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Koya, Masataka and Rion are not your typical third-year Japanese law students. When they aren’t attending classes at Sophia University in Tokyo, they spend their time fact-checking online information. And they’re good at it —their team recently came first in the Google News Initiative (GNI) 2021 APAC University Verification Challenge, beating 267 other teams from 13 countries or regions.

“I have had many experiences of believing information on [social media], only to find out later that it was false. So I understand how important fact-checking is,” said Rion. He convinced his friends Koya and Masataka to sign up to the inaugural University Verification Challenge, so they could all test their skills.

The Challenge — a half-year campaign organized by the GNI with local fact-checking organizations — was held to raise awareness and build up basic fact-checking knowledge among university students across Asia. It kicked off on April 2 (International Fact-Checking Day) in seven languages, including Japanese.

The Challenge tested students’ skills but also taught them new ones through live workshops taught by fact-checking experts, introducing them to fact-check tools like reverse image search and social media time stamps. During the live-action verification challenges, students had to solve quizzes with their teammates before the time was up. These challenges required extra attention to detail, and amazing teamwork, with the level of difficulty increasing after each round. Winning teams from each country or region proceeded to the final round to battle each other, with simultaneous translations to ensure all teams were on an equal footing. Teams from Japan took the first two spots, while Korean students took third place.

Ultimately, Rion, Masataka and Koya were surprised at their first place finish. The challenges were difficult, and they didn’t think they could verify that much, that quickly. But the skills they’d learned and practiced paid off, and they are convinced the same skills can help others navigate online information.

As Koya puts it: “People tend to see and believe only the information they want to believe. It is important to look at information from all sides.” Masataka adds: “Newspapers and TV may not always be right, but we should consume a variety of media to ensure we are looking beyond our biases.”

Fact-checking has been around for a long time, as part of a journalist’s work to ensure factual and accurate reporting. But in an environment where information is so easily accessible and shareable online, all of us can benefit from adopting a journalistic mindset. Through the GNI University Verification Challenge, we hope to equip the next generation across the region with the tools to approach the internet with confidence. After the success of the 2021 edition, students across the region are ready for the next round in 2022!

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A milestone for King’s Cross: a local innovation hub

Over the last few years, King’s Cross has truly transformed, becoming a thriving hub of innovation and creativity. The transformation is a sign of the UK’s strengths, with its incredible local talent and strong history of leading technological and scientific progress. These strengths inspired us to invest here in King’s Cross, in one of our…

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Over the last few years, King’s Cross has truly transformed, becoming a thriving hub of innovation and creativity. The transformation is a sign of the UK’s strengths, with its incredible local talent and strong history of leading technological and scientific progress. These strengths inspired us to invest here in King’s Cross, in one of our most ambitious developments to date.

Today, together with local MP, Keir Starmer, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, leader of Camden Council Georgia Gould, and our building partners, we celebrated a major milestone in the construction of our new King’s Cross office – and in our long-standing commitment to the UK – as we placed the final beam on our new development.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party and MP for Holborn and St Pancras said:

“It’s fantastic to attend not only as the leader of the Labour Party and local MP but as a proud local resident of more than 25 years. Congratulations to Google on your magnificent new building, and for all it represents – a seizing of opportunity, harnessing of talent, the creation of good, sustainable jobs and an immense contribution to our community. You’re showing what can be achieved when forward looking local government partners with the ingenuity of the private sector.”

We have long believed that creativity is spurred by environments that promote connection and wellbeing. This is more important than ever as we adapt to a future of flexible, hybrid working. Our new King’s Cross building will be equipped with new workplace technologies to help global and remote teams collaborate more effectively, build relationships, learn from colleagues and dream up new ways to solve complex challenges.

It will also be a place for community and connection thanks to the ground floor retail and community spaces, which are being curated with — and for — the local community. In the coming weeks, in partnership with more than 30 youth organisations in Camden, we’re excited to open our doors to 500 local young people for a week of taster sessions to inspire school students and job seekers with careers in technology, as well as more than 100 local work experience students.

Innovation extends to the design of the building itself, which is playing an important role in helping us to achieve our goal of going carbon free by 2030. We’re pioneering new technologies that will make our King’s Cross office our most ambitious smart building to date, including a system of 13,500 interconnected devices that will work together to improve energy efficiency in real time.

While the doors of our new King’s Cross development won’t open until 2024, incredible work is already underway nearby. The neighbourhood is home to thousands of our engineers working on products like Android, Wear OS, Search and Google Business Profiles, which are used the world over. In fact, many of the team behind some of our newest products – to be released later this year – are based right here in King’s Cross. We look forward to growing these teams and being a part of the local community’s future growth and development.

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Protecting people’s privacy on health topics

Privacy matters to people — especially around topics such as their health. Given that these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, tech platforms, and many more, we know privacy protections cannot be solely up to individual companies or states acting individually. That’s why we’ve long advocated for a comprehensive and nationwide U.S. privacy…

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Privacy matters to people — especially around topics such as their health. Given that these issues apply to healthcare providers, telecommunications companies, banks, tech platforms, and many more, we know privacy protections cannot be solely up to individual companies or states acting individually. That’s why we’ve long advocated for a comprehensive and nationwide U.S. privacy law that guarantees protections for everyone, and we’re pleased to see recent progress in Congress.

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Google and U.S. developers find agreement over Google Play store

Finally, we’ve heard developers want to understand more about how Google Play operates, which is why we’ve agreed to publish annual transparency reports. The reports will share information about the Google Play Store, including statistics such as apps removed from Google Play, account terminations, and other data regarding how users interact with Google Play. Source

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Finally, we’ve heard developers want to understand more about how Google Play operates, which is why we’ve agreed to publish annual transparency reports. The reports will share information about the Google Play Store, including statistics such as apps removed from Google Play, account terminations, and other data regarding how users interact with Google Play.

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