Poynter Institute’s IFCN Introduces A New WhatsApp Chatbot Service To Combat The Coronavirus Misinformation

On Monday, The Poynter Institute’s IFCN (International Fact-Checking Network) announced a new chatbot on WhatsApp . The chatbot is created to fight the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

The new chatbot will help WhatsApp users to easily fact-check content related to the coronavirus and is free to use. If you want to use the new WhatsApp chatbot service, save the number +1 (727) 2912606 as a further contact on your contact list. Then send a message saying ‘hi’ to the newly saved contact or access it from PC (if you use Whatsapp Web) by going to https://poy.nu/ifcnbot, and the chatbot will start working. Currently, the new WhatsApp chatbot by the IFCN is available in English. But, the company plans to make it also available in other languages, including Spanish, Hindi, and Portuguese, reasonably soon.

The new chatbot service comes with a simple, numerical, and short menu for effortless navigation. Poynter says that the chatbot also contains a worldwide directory of fact-checking organizations. In short, the new bot is a user-friendly and versatile service.

Poynter, in a release, stated that the chatbot’s system could identify the country of a user by using the phone country code of that respective WhatsApp user. Then the system will guide users about their closest fact-checking organization. Then, users can decide whether to get their piece of content directly reviewed by a local fact-checking organization or visit its website. The user can submit the piece of content for direct review to their closest fact-checker, or if the user visits a local fact-checkers website, they can learn more what type of coronavirus information is spreading in the region.

The Facebook-owned service is facilitating several initiatives to combat the spread of coronavirus-related misinformation. Recently, WhatsApp also limited the forwarding of a highly-forwarded message to only one user, and this initiative has helped the company to reduce the number of forwarded messages across its platform by approximately 70%.

This is not the first time WhatsApp facilitated chatbot service, and it seems that these chatbots are proving to be a useful tool to help people obtain authentic information related to the coronavirus.

The Public Policy Manager and Global Election Lead at WhatsApp, Ben Supple, stated that the company recently started working with Poynter’s IFCN and now there are over 40 fact checkers verified by the IFCN using the ‘WhatsApp Business’ to debunk COVID-19 related hoaxes for people in their respective regions.

IFCN’s director, Baybars Orsek, stated that millions of people across the globe use WhatsApp to stay in touch with their loved ones, and as bad actors are using every platform to misguide people during the crisis, fact-checking the information is more critical. IFCN has been working to debunk the coronavirus-related hoaxes since January, and the new WhatsApp chatbot will help the users to search for fact checks. According to him, the new bot will act as a way to connect people with their closest fact-checking organization’s website.

Read next: WhatsApp Might Be Accessible on Multiple Devices Simultaneously Soon
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