WhatsApp Coronavirus Fact Check Bot

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New bot on WhatsApp fact-checks coronavirus misinformation

The bot will draw information from more than 80 fact-checking organizations around the world.

May 5, 2020, 10:59 am

Tech

Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

A new bot on WhatsApp, the popular messaging platform, will fact-check coronavirus misinformation if prompted by a user.

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The bot was launched on Monday by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). It works by having a WhatsApp user save a number (+1 (727) 291-2606) in their address book, which people can then text to have something fact-checked. There is also a link to the bot.

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After texting the number, the user is also given a list of options and can eventually type in a few keywords to learn more about misinformation surrounding the pandemic.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The bot will draw information from more than 80 fact-checking organizations around the world, as well as a database of more than 4,000 hoaxes that have been identified by fact-checkers from 74 countries, Poynter said.

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The database already has debunked a number of false claims about the virus including major ones like a link between 5G technology and COVID-19.

“Hundreds of millions of users rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and families every day,” IFCN Director Baybars Orsek said in a statement. “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.”

Last month, WhatsApp announced that users would only be able to forward messages one at a time as part of an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus misinformation.

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*First Published: May 5, 2020, 10:59 am