Global pandemic coronavirus or COVID-19 is currently spreading across the planet at a worrying speed. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 195 countries have confirmed about 375,498 cases along with 16,362 deaths. The worrying part about this pandemic is that there is no cure available. The only thing that one can do is to prevent exposure against the virus. Health experts across the globe are also worried that major countries such as the United States and India are not conducting enough tests. In addition, a number of malicious or ignorant actors have cropped up spreading fake news regarding the virus.
Some have downplayed the seriousness of the virus while others have outright lied with laughable cures. As the world grapples with this pandemic, popular messaging platform, WhatsApp has just outlined a number of new features. WhatsApp hopes that these features and measures will help the platform fight against coronavirus as well as the fake news. Let’s take a closer look at how WhatsApp is making use of technology to try and fight misinformation.
WhatsApp teams up with WHO and Government of India
First up, let’s talk about the steps WhatsApp has taken to share correct information and sources for coronavirus. The company has teamed up with WHO to create a “World Health Organization” chatbot. This chatbot provides the latest official information and guidance regarding the pandemic. Users can use check the latest numbers, get guidance on prevention, and more. Other features include frequently asked questions, Mythbusters, travel advice, latest news, and links for donation. Users can save the number +41798931892 in their contacts and send “Hi” to access the WHO chatbot.
In addition, the company has also teamed up with the Government of India to launch the “MyGov Corona Helpdesk” chatbot. WhatsApp users can save the number +919013151515 to access the chatbox. Beyond this, a startup called Haptik has also launched an AI-based coronavirus helpdesk. This chatbot is somewhat similar to what we saw with the WHO chatbot. Users can save the number +919321398773 in their contact list to access it in India.
Fighting fake news
In addition to this, WhatsApp is also working to fight against the rampant fake news on the platform. In fact, fake news around the time of a pandemic will likely cause much more harm than any other time. The company is working on a feature that will allow users to check their features messages of facts. WhatsApp will start adding a magnifying glass in front of frequently forwarded messages around coronavirus.
Once you tap on the magnifying glass, the app will ask users to search the message on the internet. Here, users will no longer need to copy the text to search it online. This feature is currently only available to select users. However, the company plans to launch this new feature in the coming days. In addition, the company has also created a coronavirus hub on its website. Here, users can get all the information in one place regarding the virus. In addition, the company also created a $1 million grant to help multiple non-profits organizations to fight fake news.