WhatsApp users can now connect to independent fact checkers on Covid-19 via chatbot

NEW DELHI: Users can now connect directly to independent fact checkers in Covid-19 from more than 70 countries through a chatbot available in the instant messaging app. The chatbot, launched by the Poynter Institute's International Fact Check Network (IFCN), will browse a database of more than 4,000 hoaxes related to the new coronavirus to inform users if information is verified.

The use of IFCN is 100% free. Users should save +1 (727) 2912606 as the contact number and send a text message with the word hello for the bot to start, the Facebook-owned company said in a statement. Initially, the IFCN bot will be available only in English, but other languages ​​will soon follow, including Hindi, Spanish, and Portuguese.

By using the IFCN bot on WhatsApp, citizens around the world will be able to easily verify if a content about COVID-19 has already been branded as false by professional data verifiers ... All this information now forms the database CoronaVirusFacts is updated daily by the IFCN so that chatbot users can easily navigate and access its content, he said.

According to WhatsApp, the IFCN bot will identify the user's country through the person's mobile country code and then provide them with information from their closest fact-checking organizations. The person can submit information for review directly to their local fact checker or visit their website for more information on what has been circulating in the region, he added.

Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager and Election Leader at WhatsApp, said: “WhatsApp recently provided a grant to the Poynter IFCN to support the valuable work of its verified signatories around the world in combating misinformation by COVID- 19 ... There are now over 40 IFCN verified fact checkers worldwide that are using the WhatsApp Business app to debunk coronavirus hoaxes for citizens in their respective countries.