Poynter Institute is launching a WhatsApp bot to help debunk coronavirus myths

Poynter Institute is launching a WhatsApp bot to help debunk coronavirus myths

Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checkers Network (IFCN) is launching a bot on WhatsApp to curb fake information related to coronavirus. The bot‘s aim is to let people quickly check myths about the disease in 70 countries.

IFCN said 80 fact-checking organizations from 74 countries have identified more than 4,000 coronavirus-related hoaxes since January. The new bot makes it easier for you to search through these myth-busters. You can search for terms like “Masks” or “Garlic” to get related fact-checks.

Here’s how you can use it:

  • Save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact or click on http://poy.nu/ifcnbot.
  • Send a “hi”.
  • Press 1 to search for facts based on keywords, or press 2 to search for the latest myth busts.
WhatsApp IFCN bot

You can even get information about fact-checkers near you to contact them about possible hoaxes.

[Read: WhatsApp sees 70% drop in ‘viral message’ forwards after applying limits]

IFCN’s Director, Baybars Orsek, said apart from helping people search for facts, the bot will also redirect them to the local fact-checkers’ websites:

Since January, IFCN’s CoronavirusFacts Alliance has been utilizing the capacity of the fact-checking community to help users to sort truth from fiction by debunking falsehoods around the COVID-19 pandemic. The IFCN chatbot will allow users to search for fact checks and get connected with fact-checkers in their countries from their smartphones. The chatbot will also serve as a way to direct people to their local fact-checkers’ websites. 

Notably, this isn’t a tipline where you can report about misinformative pieces, but this will surely help you go through existing coronavirus myths a lot quicker.

In March, WhatsApp provided a $1 million grant to the Poynter Institute to help it with the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance. It also launched a bot with the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide the latest information to people all around the world.

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