WhatsApp Launches New COVID-19 Fact-Checker Bot to Help Reduce the Spread of Misinformation

Amid the various concerns around the spread of COVID-19 misinformation, WhatsApp has emerged as a key platform of focus, with reach to billions of users across the globe, and encrypted messaging, making it more difficult to track originating sources.

The platform has launched various tools to limit the spread of misleading reports, including new limits on message forwarding and Google search prompts in-stream. And this week, WhatsApp has added another misinformation counter-measure, partnering with Poynter on a new fact-checking bot, which can provide answers on over 4,000 hoaxes within seconds.

As reported by TechCrunch, the new bot utilizes information supplied by over 100 independent fact-checkers, in more than 70 countries, the largest database of fact-checking info available on COVID-19. Now, if a user has a concern about a particular piece of COVID-19 news, they can enter it in and get informed on the truth, quickly and easily, which should help to reduce the sharing of at least some false information and updates.

WhatsApp’s reach makes is a significant concern in this respect. WhatsApp is by far the leading messaging app in many markets, and is particularly popular in developing regions, where COVID-19 is likely to have a devastating impact.

Given this, it’s important for WhatsApp to counter false claims however it can. Accurate, timely reports are what’s needed to combat the outbreak. People need to know what they need to do to limit the spread, how they should act, where they should be. If the messaging gets confused of diluted, more people die, as simple as that.

Users can save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact number, and text “hi” to launch the chatbot, or they can also use this shortlink on mobile to get started. The fact-checking bot is currently available in English, but support for other languages including Hindi, Spanish and Portuguese is reportedly coming soon.

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