Wednesday, 06 May 2020
Poynter Institute’s WhatsApp chatbot enables users to verify Covid-19 related news and connect with local fact-checking organisations. — Poynter Institute
US-based journalism education and strategy centre Poynter Institute for Media Studies has launched a WhatsApp chatbot that helps users verify if the Covid-19 related news they’ve received is legit.
To interact with the chatbot, users have to message “hi”, which brings up a numerical menu of services including fact checking, tips to fight misinformation or information on fact-checking organisations close by.
Currently, it is only able to converse in English, but Poynter plans to roll out more language options, including Hindi and Spanish, plus additional functions.
The chatbot can be reached via its WhatsApp business account using this number +1 (727) 2912606 or by clicking this link.
Its answers are based on the CoronaVirusFacts database, compiled by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), made up of more than 80 fact-checking organisations worldwide.
Since January, members from 74 participating countries identified more than 4,000 hoaxes related to the Covid-19.
The system keeps a global directory of these organisations and can point users towards the nearest fact-checking organisation by identifying their locality, based on their mobile country code.
Users can submit unverified info for review directly to local fact-checkers or visit their website to learn more about misinformation circulating in the region.
On the Poynter website, IFCN director Baybars Orsek said since bad actors use various platforms to disseminate falsehoods and mislead the public during troubling times, fact-checkers’ work is more important than ever.
WhatsApp public policy manager Ben Supple said the messaging platform provided a grant to IFCN to support the work of its verified signatories around the world in combating Covid-19 misinformation.
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World news – US – Poynter Institute says new WhatsApp chatbot can help separate Covid-19 hoaxes from news