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This WhatsApp bot can help fact-check COVID-19 information for you

Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism school and research organisation, has launched a WhatsApp bot that aims to let users fact-check COVID-19 claims. This was possible after Facebook, who owns WhatsApp, provided the organisation with a USD 1 million grant to go towards the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance.

We earlier reported that WhatsApp’s spread of ‘highly forwarded’ messages has dropped by 70% after trying to fight viral misinformation by limiting users to forwarding certain messages to one “chat” at a time. Their new policy stated that any message that’s already been forwarded by five or more people can now only be forwarded to a single person or group.

In addition to actively trying to limit potentially false content about COVID-19 being overshared, Poynter’s WhatsApp bot can be reached by saving +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact, or alternatively, clicking on this link where it’ll take you to WhatsApp web if you’re on your desktop, or the WhatsApp app on your phone. It’ll then let you type in “Hi” as an auto-generated text to the WhatsApp bot.

Users can then send the numbers according to which section you’d like to know more of. For example, if you send 1, the bot will ask you to type ion a word or a sentence related to the fact you want to check, and they’ll send you the top 2 results from our database.

If you send the number 2, you can search through the latest myths that have been busted in Malaysia.

Sending 3 will give you tips to fight misinformation, 4 to find fact-checkers near you, 5 to get to know Poynter and their global alliance of fact-checking organisations, and 6 for privacy information.

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Facebook itself also introduced a similar ‘bot’ service to their Facebook Messenger app after partnering with the World Health Organisation (WHO). The bot, too, can inform Messenger users on COVID-19 facts and news.

If you’d like to keep the WhatsApp bot in your phone or WhatsApp Web, click here and send the automated “Hi” to have the bot send you their menu. It could be a powerful tool for the next time you receive a forwarded message containing potentially false information.


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