Given the popularity of WhatsApp, the instant messaging service has become a futile ground for irresponsible parties and users to spread misinformation. Combine that with critical situations like the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, it could lead to unnecessary panic among the population.
Even though WhatsApp has implemented several measures to stop the spread of fake facts and news which seems to be working, the service can always benefit with additional measure. In relation to COVID-19, there is a new fact-checking tool that is now accessible through WhatsApp.
The tool comes in the form of a chatbot launched by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFNC) which is a unit of Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism school based in Florida. Prior to this, the organization has received USD 1 million grant from WhatsApp to help support its fight against COVID-19 misinformation.
In terms of information source, IFCN’s chatbot taps into the CoronaVirusFacts database which contained data provided by fact-checkers from 74 countries all over the world and is being updated on daily basis. IFCN’s chatbot is also able to identify users’ country via their mobile country code and this enables it to provide information regarding the nearest fact-checking organizations.
Available for free, IFCN COVID-19 fact-check chatbot can be activate by texting “hi” to +1 (727) 2912606. Alternatively, you can also visit this particular link to start verifying COVID-19 facts with the chatbot. However, do note that the IFCN’s chatbot is only able to communicate in English for the time being.