The International Fact-Checking Network launches WhatsApp chatbot to fight Covid-19 misinformation
WhatsApp has been making efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 misinformation. The latest chatbot will make it easier to verify a message on the Covid-19. Here’s how to get started.
WhatsApp on Monday announced the availability of a new chatbot from Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network aimed at fighting the Covid-19 misinformation.
The chatbot will allow users to easily fact-check a piece of content about the Covid-19. The chatbot is free to use and users can get started by save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact number and text the word 'hi' to get the bot started. Alternatively, users can click here. The chatbot is currently available in English and will be available in other languages such as Hindi, Spanish, and Portuguese soon.
WhatsApp says the bot has a simple and numeric menu for easier navigation. According to WhatsApp, the bot also provides a global directory of fact-checking organisations.
"The system is capable of identifying the user's country via the person's mobile country code and then providing them with their closest fact-checking organizations. The person can then submit a piece of information for review directly to its local fact-checker or visit its website to learn more about what has been circulating in the region," said WhatsApp in a release.
The new chatbot is part of WhatsApp's ongoing efforts to curb the spready of Covid-19 misinformation on its platform. Last month, WhatsApp had donated $1 million to the Poynter Institute's international fact-checking network.
In the last couple of months, WhatsApp has announced a slew of measures to fight misinformation. Just recently it curbed forwarding a message to just one chat. The move helped WhatsApp reduce forwards by up to 70%.
WhatsApp chatbots have also emerged as an effective tool to help users get informed about the Covid-19. Already, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Indian government have launched chatbots for the coronavirus.
Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager & Global Election Lead at WhatsApp, said: "WhatsApp recently provided a grant to Poynter's IFCN to support the valuable work of its verified signatories around the world in combating COVID-19 misinformation. We are very pleased to now be able to support IFCN's essential fact-checking work with the launch of this important service for WhatsApp users. There are now more than 40 IFCN-verified fact-checkers around the world that are using the WhatsApp Business app to debunk coronavirus hoaxes for citizens in their respective countries."
Baybars Orsek, IFCN's Director, commented: "Billions of users rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and families every month. Since bad actors use every single platform to disseminate falsehoods, to mislead others during such troubling times, fact-checkers' work is more important than ever. Since January, IFCN's CoronavirusFacts Alliance has been utilizing the capacity of the fact-checking community to help users to sort truth from fiction by debunking falsehoods around the COVID-19 pandemic. The IFCN chatbot will allow users to search for fact checks and get connected with fact-checkers in their countries from their smartphones. The chatbot will also serve as a way to direct people to their local fact-checkers' websites."