A social game, a web-extension, a psychological tool, a bot and a web-platform – the third in the series of eight hackathons was held at Hyderabad. It saw an interesting range of ideas to effectively counter violent extremism.
The 2-day creative competition called the Digital Masala Challenge was held at T-Hub, India’s largest incubator for startups in the IIIT-Hyderabad campus.
Digital Masala Challenge- a hackathon to counter violent extremism is sponsored by Facebook and organised by Youth Ki Awaaz.
Entries for the challenge were invited from all around the country, but the final teams were selected after a 2-step assessment process. The applicants explained their understanding of violent extremism, ‘the difference between hate speech and freedom of expression’ and talked about their strengths and the solution to get a place in the challenge.
The final participants were a mix of civil society members, MBA graduates, lawyer, engineers, social media freaks and chartered accountants. All of them brought in their perspectives and visions to fight extremism.
For two days, the teams worked to polish their ideas. In the finale, they pitched these ideas to the jury consisting of Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary, Telangana, Seth Peavey, Economic and Political Head, US Embassy in Hyderabad, and Kavitha Kunhi Kannan, Public Policy Manager, Facebook.
A tough call it was – but a team of developers from Delhi called 1 MP won the challenge. Their idea was based on the observation that the reason terrorist organisations are able to recruit vulnerable youth is because most youths are from the marginalised sections of society with not much hope for the future. The team found the solution in a chat-bot platform that identifies such youths at risk through targeted social media campaigns which engage them through positive societal reaffirmation.
They won Facebook ad credits and $5,000 to execute their idea.