In an attempt to curb the spread of fake news related to coronavirus pandemic, Facebook-owned instant messaging app WhatsApp recently announced the launch of the ‘WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub’ in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP).
Additionally, WhatsApp has also floated $1 Mn to Florida-based Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The fund will be used to support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which has a presence in 100 locations across 45 countries. Through this collaboration, IFCN will help ensure local communities are aware and respond to potential harmful rumours within WhatsApp Business, including the WhatsApp Business API.
Achim Steiner, administrator at UNDP, in a press statement, said that getting valid information about Covid-19 to local communities around the world is a crucial step to stop the spread of the virus.
Adding to this, Baybars Orsek, the Director of IFCN said that his team will look into discovering ways to understand the spread of health-related hoaxes on WhatsApp in different formats and to make tools available for fact-checkers to detect and debunk misinformation on the messaging app.
How Is WhatsApp Fighting Fake News?
The new platform by WhatsApp will bring general tips and resources for users around the world related to the global pandemic. It will also provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, NGOs, government authorities and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.
The company also stated that it will be providing WHO and UNICEF hotlines which will offer reliable information and will be listed on the ‘WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub.’
In the coming days, WhatsApp will be updating the hub with latest resources as it claimed to have worked with a number of national health ministries and NGOs to provide factually up to date information to users via text in countries including Singapore, South Africa, Israel, Indonesia, Brazil among others.
WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart said that users are reaching out on WhatsApp more than ever, whether it is to friends and loved ones, teachers to students, or doctors to patients.
How Facebook, TikTok And Others Are Tackling Coronavirus
Today, the fake news around coronavirus pandemic crawls all over the internet. It becomes imperative for social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok among others take necessary steps to stop the spread of false news and rumours associated with Covid-19.
Recently, Facebook in its blog post had said that it will be using its existing third-party fact-checkers to review and curb fake news on its platform. The social media giant also said that it will notify individuals who had shared or trying to share any information that had been flagged as false by the fact-checkers.
TikTok recently linked up with WHO to curb rumours and educate users against the novel coronavirus. The users can search for coronavirus in the search bar, which directs them directly to the organisation’s website for additional information.
Similarly, Twitter has also launched a search prompt in partnership with the ministry of health and family welfare (MHFW) and WHO. In other words, Twitter searches related to coronavirus or any related terms will be redirected to WHO website.