Amid the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 on social media platforms, WhatsApp on Wednesday launched a Coronavirus Information Hub and announced a $1 million donation to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
Launched in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and UNDP, the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub is designed to provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.
It will also offer general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumours. The Facebook-owned instant messaging platform now supports over two billion users globally. With over 400 million users, India is WhatsApp's biggest market.
The $1 million grant to the IFCN will support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which spans more than 100 local organisations in at least 45 countries.
"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," Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp, said in a statement.
"We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organisations 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," he added.
WhatsApp said it is working with the 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.