WhatsApp launches new initiatives to combat coronavirus rumors
A day after Facebook and other big tech companies teamed up to combat misinformation around coronavirus disease COVID-19, WhatsApp, the messaging platform owned by the social network, has come to action. The service has launched two new initiatives specifically designed to curb the spread of fake news and misinformation related to the pandemic which has already spread to 150 countries. Here's more about them.
Coronavirus Information hub in partnership with WHO
First of all, WhatsApp has announced a new 'Coronavirus Infomation Hub' in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). This section, accessed via whatsapp.com/coronavirus, provides general information, tips, and guidance about coronavirus so that people become aware of the disease and refrain from sharing misinformation related to it.
Showing how WhatsApp can be used to combat outbreak
Along with simple actionable information, the information hub also shows stories highlighting how 'WhatsApp for Business' is being used to help users of the service combat various aspects of the outbreak. This includes information on the relief work being done by health workers, educators, and others to tackle different problems stemming from the disease that has already killed over 8,000 people worldwide.
$1 million donation for fact-checking
To further combat the spread of misinformation, WhatsApp has also announced $1 million donation to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The grant would be used to boost the scale of efforts led by the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which currently covers more than 100 local organizations in at least 45 countries and ensures local communities are actively busting harmful rumors.
Donation to help more people distinguish facts from rumors
"The timely donation from WhatsApp will help the fact-checks published by the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance to reach wider audiences and, in consequence, help people sort facts from fiction during this avalanche of information that WHO called an 'infodemic," IFCN Director Baybars Orsek stated.
COVID-19 related rumors spreading like wildfire
The action from WhatsApp comes as COVID-19-related misinformation continues to spread like wildfire on the messaging platform. From unverified potential treatments to things like consuming bleach have been misleading people about the disease. Hopefully, the information hub and grant would prove effective in cutting down these rumors, especially the health-related hoaxes, to some extent.