WhatsApp took steps to tackle challenges stemming from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, launching a global information centre and donating $1 million to a fact-checking initiative.
Backed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub will provide “simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate”.
The information centre will also offer tips and resources to help limit the spread of rumours related to Covid-19.
Facebook’s subsidiary said it was working with the WHO and UNICEF to open messaging hotlines for users to get information directly.
As part of its efforts to combat misinformation, WhatsApp announced it will pour $1 million into Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
The grant will support an alliance related to checking information about Covid-19, which covers more than 100 local organisations in at least 45 countries. The donation will also include training for fact-checkers to use features within WhatsApp Business.
WhatsApp head Will Cathcart stated the move would “help grow the amount of fact-checking organisations” on the messaging app and “support their life saving work to debunk rumours”.
He added the company will continue working with health ministries worldwide to provide updates within the messaging service.
Administrator of the UNDP, Achim Steiner, described receiving up-to-date information about Covid-19 as “a critical piece of the international community’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus”.
WHO characterised Covid-19 as a pandemic on 11 March.