Last week Instagram notified me that a viral post I had published was “fact checked” by a group called ‘The Healthy Indian Project’. My mother is from Bombay, and I did lose 40lbs last year, but I didn’t think they had created an entire unit just for me. So, I decided to find out who this group is. My findings are bemusing.
The Healthy Indian Project (‘THIP’) appears to have started as a fitness and lifestyle site in 2018. Its CEO – Sudipta Sengupta – is a life-long marketing consultant from a small city (Gurgaon, Haryana) in India.
The group is a member of the high-profile Poynter network called the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), though a two separate audits of its membership reveal concerns about non-partisanship, transparency, and the organization’s finances with a particular focus on a grant from the U.S.-based search engine Google:
“The applicant has shared proof of its status as a legally registered company. It has provided a balance sheet that indicates that the funding comes from its directors. They have mentioned a grant from Google this does not reflect in the balance sheet, we do not know if it accounts for more than 5% of the revenue. The balance sheet does not reflect any income or expenses.”
– IFCN assessor Surekha Deepak.
The network was added to Facebook’s “fact-checking” program – which includes Instagram – in the summer of 2021.