The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has led to a number of fake stories doing rounds on the internet. While some fake messages are giving away fake cures for COVID-19, some are claiming the virus' origin. It is evident that these fake messages need a fact check to ensure their credibility, especially on open platforms like social media. WhatsApp messenger has proven to be a preferred platform for various fake news spreaders but now, certain important steps have been taken to ensure that the circulation of fake news is curbed.
The international fact-checking network has launched a chatbot on WhatsApp which connects to over 80 fact-checking organizations to millions of users. By using this chatbot, users can easily check if the content related to COVID-19 has been previously fact-checked by professional checkers. As per reports, since January 2020, almost 4,000 hoaxes related to the COVID-19 have been identified in over 74 countries. The majority of these hoaxes were shared using social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and others. The database of the chatbot set up by the International fact-checking network is updated daily and users can access relevant content at the ease of their smartphones.
Users can easily access the free chatbox by texting a 'hi' to this number - +1 (727) 2912606. The chatbox is currently available only in English, but will soon be available in other languages like Spanish and Hindi. Users can also click on the link listed below in order to access the fact-checking bot.
The director of the international fact-checking network, Baybars Orsek, recently revealed through a public statement that hundreds of millions of users rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch. According to the director, since notorious internet users are using every platform to share fake news, it is important for fact-checkers to put in extra work and find the truth.
WhatsApp had previously donated $1 million to the international fact-checking network. WhatsApp has been taking important steps to curb the spreading of fake news on its platform. Recently, WhatsApp stopped forwarding of messages to over one chat, this has reportedly helped WhatsApp to reduce forwarded messages by 70%.