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WhatsApp launches COVID-19 information hub with WHO; grants $1mto IFCN for fact-checking

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on March 19, 2020 Published on March 19, 2020

WhatsApp announced the launch of two initiatives in support of the global fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. The first initiative is the global launch of the “WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub” in partnership with the World Health Organization, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Development Program.

While the second initiative is the enhancement of fact-checking network to counter fake news and rumours around coronavirus. WhatsApp donated $1m to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), as per the company’s official release.

Speaking on the launch of two initiatives, Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp said: “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.

He mentioned that he wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time.

WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub

The WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub was launched on to provide guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. The site also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumours and connect with accurate health information.

WhatsApp is also working with the UNDP, WHO, and UNICEF to provide messaging hotlines for people around the world to use directly. These hotlines will provide reliable information and will be listed on the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub.

Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said on the collaboration: “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.”

Busting fake news and rumours

According to the messaging company, WhatsApp’s $1m grant to the IFCN will support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which spans more than 100 local organizations in at least 45 countries.

WhatsApp mentioned in its official release that the grant will support training to use the advanced features within WhatsApp Business, including the WhatsApp Business API. Expanding the presence of these IFCN certified fact-checking organizations will help ensure local communities are aware and responding to potential harmful rumors.

Commenting on WhatsApp’s donation to IFCN, Baybars Orsek, Director of IFCN, said: “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'.”

He further added: “We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp and to support their life-saving work to debunk rumours. We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp.”


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Published on March 19, 2020
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