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 Program (UNDP).
As coronavirus cases continue to rise globally — infecting over 1,98,000 people and claiming more than 7,900 lives worldwide – the messaging platform on Wednesday said WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub at whatsapp.com/coronavirus would provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profit entities, local governments, and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.
The site also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumors and connect with accurate health information, it said. “While people need to spend time apart, WhatsApp will continue to provide a simple, reliable and secure way for people to communicate,” it said.
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 rumors 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 Orsak, 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.
Besides this, WhatsApp is working with the WHO and UNICEF to provide messaging hotlines for people around the world. These hotlines will provide reliable information and will be listed on the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub.
So far, WhatsApp has worked with a number of national health ministries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide factual information to users via text in countries including Singapore, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia. As these efforts continue, the hub will be updated with the latest resources, the statement said.