How to use WhatsApp's new Covid-19 fact-checking chatbot

Updated: 06 May 2020

  • FILE PHOTO: The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen (REUTERS)
  • The chatbot provides a list of latest fact checks, tips to fight misinformation and even find fact-checkers near you

WhatsApp has done good to a lot of people during the lockdown phase but the instant messaging application is also victim to massive spread of misinformation on the platform. The company has taken various steps to minimise this danger. One such step is the introduction of a chatbot focused on the myth-busting information regarding coronavirus.

WhatsApp is partnering with Poynter Institute’s International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) to introduce a simple and effective tool within the application. For now, the tool does not support any language but English. However, the company has claimed that they are working on introducing Hindi as an option too. In the meantime, users can ask for fact-checkers nearby through the chatbot who will provide support in various native languages like Marathi, Telugu and Urdu.

To use this new chatbot, WhatsApp users can either save this number +1 727-291-2606 or just click on this link from the device that has WhatsApp installed on it. Once the number is saved, the user will just have to send ‘hi’ on the chat to launch various options available to them. Entering one of the numerical options in the chat will provide assistance accordingly.

Within the first 'Search for fact checks' option , the user can either type keywords about a specific piece of information that they want to check or a short sentence. The chat brings up two recently fact-checked pieces of information along with the link to the organisation’s page that did the fact-checking. Along with that, the user gets a simple statement answering whether the information that is in circulation is true or false.

Apart from directly searching information, the chatbot provides a list of latest fact checks, tips to fight misinformation and even find fact-checkers near you.

What is important to note is that this feature is currently only available for information related to Covid-19. The CoronaVirusFacts Alliance is a group of over 100 fact-checkers around the world that are coming together to provide critical information in a simple format.