What we do
Watchdog is a multidisciplinary team of factcheckers, journalists, researchers and software engineers. We hunt hoaxes and misinformation, investigate matters of public welfare, and build software tools that help operations like ours.
We began in April 2019, days after the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, as a group of concerned citizens trying to counter misinformation. We did this amidst government crackdowns on freedom of expression and mass hysteria caused by fake news and rumors, building a mobile app that was used by over 200,000 people to verify information and counteract rumors in their own networks.
How we work
The primary face of our operation is this website and the Watchdog app, available for free on Google Play.
Don’t take our word for it: go see what people think.
We’ve been called an “open-source intelligence research collective”, and that’s fairly accurate. We use a lot of OSINT techniques - a combination of data scraping, analysis of publicly available documents and datasets, paired with old-school boots-on-the-ground journalism.
These are our Operational ethics. Here’s how we go about Handling conflict - whether that’s related to a story we’re working on or an internal issue. Lastly, we’re known for our no-bullshit style (which tends to annoy people who expect flowery abstractions and vagueness), so here’s our Language guide.
Who we are
The original incarnation of Watchdog was staffed by volunteer factcheckers and translators. We’ve grown significantly since then. Many of our team have strong journalism and research backgrounds, with a sprinkling of computer science to make sure we have the tools to keep up with our ambitions.
Data scientist and editor-in-chief. Formerly at LIRNEasia’s Data, Policy and Algorithms team, working on misinformation, information control, resource-poor languages and social networks. Bylines at ForeignPolicy, Wired, Slate. Forbes 30 Under 30.
SaaS engineer with a background in economics. Co-founded Paladin Analytics and rooster.jobs, growing multiple tech teams from one-person operations into enterprise SaaS companies. Builds and manages Watchdog tech infrastructure, including moonshots.
Academic; research work at the University of Colombo (digital humanities) and University of Oxford (diversity and inclusion). Former editor of Groundviews, a publication by the Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Mirror Award-winning journalist with bylines in Roar Media, Buzzfeed News, Arab News, Scroll.in, Seattle Globalist, and Ceylon Today. Former Communications at The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Journalist with over a decade in the field; editor of the weekly Tamil newspaper Vidivelli; print and New media trainer; UN Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellow.
Multidisciplinary broadcast journalist. Over a decade as a producer, TV anchor and reporter at The Capital Maharaja Organisation. Former Advocacy & Communications Consultant at Transparency International Sri Lanka.
Resident economist. Lectures at the the University of Colombo. Former researcher at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Finance. Ex-journalist (Ceylon Today) and founder of We Translate, a trilingual translation service.
Amalini De Sayrah
Writer, researcher and photographer, focused on human rights and marginalization; bylines in The Guardian, Firstpost, Global Voices, FT Sri Lanka, and Himal Southasian; former editor of Groundviews and institutional communications at the Centre for Policy Alternatives.
These organizations have given us money to do what we do.
Who they are
Why they funded us
OCCRP (Primary Funder)
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is an investigative reporting coalition that specializes in organized crime and corruption, operating in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, South Asia and Central America.
To keep our regular research operations and factchecks running in English, Sinhala and Tamil.
The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) is an international, nonprofit organization that specializes in global education and development in more than 100 countries.
To design and deliver a media literacy and anti-misinformation syllabus for Sri Lanka.
Locked for now. We’ll open this up when we want to talk.