New WhatsApp chatbot busts COVID-19 misinformation in Hindi
In a bid to help Indians fight misinformation around COVID-19, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) has launched the Hindi version of its fact-checking chatbot for WhatsApp. The tool, available for access right away, works directly on the messaging app and lets you see whether any viral piece of information related to the coronavirus pandemic has been classified as false/misleading. Here's more about it.
Originally available in English and Spanish, the IFCN bot lets you search for validated information on anything unusual you may have read (or heard) about COVID-19, its spread, or treatment. You just have to send a WhatsApp text mentioning the topic in question and it displays all recently-checked facts around the issue, all sourced from independent fact-checkers in India and abroad.
In India, IFCN's bot sources information from 11 reputed fact-checking organizations, including Jagran Group's Vishvas News, Fact Crescendo, India Today, Newschecker, Boom Fact Check, News Mobile, and The Quint. At the time of writing, the Hindi database of the chatbot has over 250 fact-checks but the number is expected to grow with fresh misinformation-busting reports coming in from the aforementioned outlets.
"The IFCN chatbot in Hindi will allow users to search for fact checks and get connected with fact-checkers from their smartphones. The chatbot will also serve as a way to direct people to their local fact-checkers' websites," Baybars Orsek, IFCN's Director, said in a statement.
To start checking facts with the chatbot, save this number +1 (727) 2912606 in your phone's contacts as 'IFCN'. Then, launch the WhatsApp app, search for IFCN, and send a text saying "नमस्ते" to activate the chatbot. It will show a list of numbers, which you can use to either search for specific viral topics or the latest ones fact-checked by the partner organizations.
Once the IFCN chatbot is activated, you can also change the language to English or Spanish. The network is also working to bring Portuguese support in the future. Either way, the move to bring Hindi support makes sense, considering India is WhatsApp's biggest market with 400 million users, and 44% of the country's population speaks Hindi.