Numbers come up for students in Cambridge competition tackling misinformation

“I am delighted to have had our work recognised as the winning concept”

A Master’s student at St John’s has won the Cambridge Misinformation Hackathon with two friends - and the trio all did their undergraduate degrees at the same university in South Africa. 

Josephine (Josie) Rey and her teammates Gregor Feierabend, from Trinity Hall, and Luca Powell, from Wolfson College, developed a method to address misleading numerical claims in the media for the competition, which took place in Cambridge on Saturday 18 November. All three are MPhil Advanced Computer Science students who studied together at Stellenbosch University.

Josephine Rey in front of the Bridge of Sighs
Josie Rey.

The hackathon is a vehicle for undergraduates and postgraduates of all disciplines to tackle the root causes of misinformation and to design potential actionable solutions.

The event was hosted by Students Against Pseudoscience, which was founded in the first year of the pandemic to promote effective scientific communication and is ‘dedicated to fighting back against the growing threats of pseudoscience, misinformation and anti-intellectualism with compassion’. The competition was supported by Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH).

Naming their team ‘Social Mediators’, Josie, Gregor and Luca spent the day of the hackathon developing a prototype, report and presentation to deliver to a judging panel of experts. They suggested a web-based plug-in that can identify misleading numerical claims in online news articles and report them back to the reader.

Hackthon team
Josie with her winning teammates.

Josie said: “I am delighted to have been a part of this year's Cambridge Misinformation Hackathon and to have had our work recognised as the winning concept.

“I learned a huge amount from the process, and it was exciting to see a range of interdisciplinary approaches proposed to address this issue.

“I am also particularly grateful to have shared this experience with my team. After several years of studying together in South Africa, it is truly special to collaborate in these new and thought-provoking settings.”

Published 23/11/2023

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