WhatsApp released a new chatbot in the United Kingdom to help further curb the spread of misinformation. A user only has to save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact, and say ‘hi’ to start the bot.
The fight against the Coronavirus pandemic isn’t getting any easier as the days go by. For as long as there is still no vaccine available, the spread of misinformation will continue to rise. The motivation in spreading fake news is still unfounded, and online companies are hard at work to fight this different type of plague.
WhatsApp, on their part, has been working round the clock to fight the spread of misinformation on their platform. They currently hold the record for most users at two billion unique users. Their number dwarfs the combined numbers of the next few chat apps following on the list.
WhatsApp announces the release of the new chatbot
WhatsApp has partnered with Poynter Institute for Media Studies’ International Fact-Checking Network. Together, the two institutions have launched an aggressive campaign against fear mongers.
The partnership was forged in order to ease up the bottleneck experienced by the U.K. Government’s 111 NHS phone line. The chatbot will answer the most commonly asked questions related to the Coronavirus. If activated, the chat bot will also be the channel by which the U.K. Government can supply timely and useful information to subscribers.
According to IFCN director Baybars Orsek,
Hundreds of millions of users rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and families every day, since bad actors use every single platform to disseminate falsehoods, to mislead others during such troubling times, fact-checkers’ work is more important than ever.
Users may activate the chatbot by saving the +1 (727) 2912606 on their contacts. Once saved, they only need to send ‘hi’ to subscribe to the services. After this, they can now do their fact-checking of information they receive from friends and family.
Users may send any link or information to the chatbot, and the bot will automatically reply with a verified content that has been fact-checked by the IFCN. They may also inquire on the chatbot any query they may have regarding the Coronavirus pandemic or government regulations.
Limited forwarded messages
WhatsApp has implemented several steps regarding the wildfire spread of false news. The first one they implemented was the controlled forwarding of messages to groups. A message that has been forwarded for five times or more may only be sent to individual chats thread.
The company reported that the measure has already trimmed the ‘infodemic’ by a significant number following the update.