Since the novel coronavirus has marked its presence in India, there have been circulations of all sorts of fake news. May it be the conspiracy of China forming a biological weapon against the world or may it be the weird home made cures. Whatsapp becomes the source of spreading it all.
As the pandemic spread, the private messaging platform brought in product changes, including reducing the number forwards of a ‘highly forwarded message’ to just one chat. The company says this has brought down virality of messages which has already reduced the number of highly forwarded messages by 70%.
To curb this spread of fake news, Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) has released a chatbot on WhatsApp where people can message and check the fake news claims.
Replies from IFCN’s database of debunked fake news will be available to people at +1 (727) 2912606. As of now, the chatbot is only available in English but soon will be released in Hindi and many other languages like Portuguese and Spanish, in due course.
A WhatsApp release said that through the bot, people can check whether the sent information about Covid-19 has already been rated as false by professional fact checkers.
It also stated, since January, more than 80 fact-checking organisations from 74 countries have identified more than 4,000 hoaxes related to the novel coronavirus. All this information now forms the CoronaVirusFacts database and is updated daily by the IFCN so that chatbot users can navigate and easily access its content.
The chatbot will also enable the users to search for these debunked news. The IFCN bot is primarily a way to distribute fact checks to WhatsApp users and to provide access to a searchable database on coronavirus debunked hoaxes.
It allows users to review IFCN’s database of 4,000 debunked myths, to search for fact checks by word or phrase, access to tips to protect themselves from falsehoods, and also to find out how to contact local fact checkers in their country.
It also provides access to the global directory of fact-checking organisations, and the user’s country is detected from the mobile country code to provide contacts of fact-checking organisations which are closest. The person can then submit a piece of information for review directly to its local fact checker or visit it.