WhatsApp has today announced it is launching a website to help combat misinformation surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The ‘WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub’ sees the Facebook-owned company partner with the WHO and UNICEF to provide reliable information to users.
It claims the service provides ‘simple, actionable guidance’ for various people most affected by the ongoing crisis.
This includes health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and businesses.
It has also donated $1million to an independent fact-checking institute in the US and will soon launch ‘messaging hotlines’ for users to seek advice.
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WhatsApp has today announced it has launched a global site to help combat misinformation surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (pictured)
Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp, says: ‘We know that our users are reaching out on WhatsApp more than ever at this time of crisis, whether it’s to friends and loved ones, doctors to patients, or teachers to students.
‘We wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time.’
The site also offers members of the public general tips and resources to help clamp down on rumours.
The messaging platform, which has more than two billion global users, is also helping people to accurate health information from legitimate sources.
WhatsApp states it is also working with the WHO and UNICEF to provide ‘messaging hotlines’ for people around the world to use directly which will be live soon, MailOnline understands.
UNICEF has already launched an information hotline in Indonesia and more are expected to go live in the near future.
Users will be able to access the hotlines via the coronavirus information hub, available at whatsapp.com/coronavirus.
‘Getting up to date information about COVID-19 to local communities around the world is a critical piece of the international community’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus,’ said Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
‘Partnerships with private sector companies like WhatsApp will help get this vital, real time information from the World Health Organization and local health officials to billions of users around the globe.’
WhatsApp states it is also working with the WHO and UNICEF to provide ‘messaging hotlines’ for people around the world to use directly. Users will be able to access the hotlines via the coronavirus information hub, available at whatsapp.com/coronavirus
The WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub sees the Facebook-owned company partner with the WHO and UNICEF to provide reliable information to users. It claims the service will provide ‘simple, actionable guidance’ for various people most affected by the ongoing crisis
The company has also pledged a $1million donation to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to help support the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance.
Baybars Orsek, Director of IFCN says: ‘The timely donation from WhatsApp will help the fact-checks published by the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance to reach wider audiences and, in consequence, help people sort facts from fiction during this avalanche of information that WHO called an “infodemic”.
‘The International Fact-Checking Network also looks forward to discovering ways to understand the spread of health related hoaxes on WhatsApp in different formats and to make tools available for fact-checkers to detect and debunk misinformation on the messaging app.’
WhatsApp, as well as other tech firms, such as Twitter, Google and Facebook, have been working to restrict the spread of coronavirus misinformation.
Fake cures and hoax treatments have been circulating on social media as well as inaccurate statistics.
Governments around the world and tech companies are working together to stop the spread of false information in order to prevent mass panic.
Today, the global tally for coronavirus cases has reached 200,000 with more than 8,000 patients sadly dying.
Much of the world is on lockdown to prevent the spread of the contagion, with millions of people working from home and self-isolating.
HOW TO USE WHATSAPP DURING CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN TO STAY CONNECTED AND INFORMED
The following guidance and advice from WhatsApp has been shared to help people to stay connected and stay accurately informed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Use WhatsApp features like groups, voice messages and video calls to stay connected and provide support to loved ones when you can’t be in the same place, such as with those who are ill or self-isolating.
Support your community
Set up a WhatsApp group to connect with your community and neighbours, and offer each other help and support, such as help with shopping, medical supplies or just a friendly phone call.
This is especially important to support elderly people who may not be able to leave their home.
Make regular calls to the elderly and vulnerable
WhatsApp is simple and easy to use no matter your age. Use WhatsApp to regularly phone or video call your parents, grandparents and the over 70s to prevent them feeling isolated.
WhatsApp video calls let you connect with up to four people on one call so you can talk to the whole family at once.
The video function can be found by pressing the ‘phone’ icon in the top right-hand corner of any WhatsApp Group chat.
Choose reliable sources of information
Connect with local, national and global organisations.
Turn to trusted sources, such as the government, the NHS and the World Health Organization for the latest information and guidelines.
Help prevent the spread of rumours
Think about the messages that you receive, because not everything you are sent about the coronavirus may be accurate.
Messages with the ‘Forwarded’ label help you determine if your friend or relative wrote the message or if it originally came from someone else.
When a message is forwarded from one user to another more than five times, you will see a ‘highly forwarded’ double arrow icon which means you should pause and think about whether you should forward it.
Verify facts with trusted official sources before you share them, such as the government, NHS or WHO, and if you aren’t sure if something’s true, don’t forward it.