WhatsApp and the World Health Organization (WHO) have launched a chatbot that answers questions about the pandemic to help users find accurate coronavirus information. When users send “Hello” to the new WHO health alert (+41 79 893 1892), the service responds with a series of prompts, the latest data, and some emojis. In addition to combating misinformation on the platform, WhatsApp can also help find the latest government figures and management reports, according to WhatsApp.
Yesterday, WhatsApp, in collaboration with WHO, UNICEF, and the United Nations Development Program, launched a hub to check coronavirus facts. This is intended to provide the latest news and advice on COVID-19. The chatbot goes one step further and allows users to ask questions directly. WhatsApp also donated $ 1 million to help organizations verify the facts.
To get updates # COVID19 from WHO add this number to +41 79 893 18 92 to your contacts and send one @ Whatsapp Embassy. You will be automatically registered to receive updates and have the option to request more information as shown below. pic.twitter.com/WXaGd88AGf
– WHO Uganda (@WHOUganda) March 20, 2020
According to The Guardian, the British NHS may also develop a WhatsApp chatbot to exchange reliable coronavirus information. The NHS helps people in the UK find reliable health information through Google and works with Amazon on an Alexa-based chatbot, so it may be well positioned to add a WhatsApp bot.
While WhatsApp started as a messaging service, it has developed into a social network and is now used by more than two billion people worldwide. It is also a unique challenge in the fight against misinformation. In contrast to other social networks and search engines, messages are encrypted and incomprehensible. As The Guardian emphasizes, it is extremely difficult for WhatsApp to fight false claims.
Last year, WhatsApp reduced the message forwarding limit to just five individuals or groups to combat misinformation. In 2018, WhatsApp banned more than 400,000 accounts during the Brazilian election by dealing with “automatic activity and mass messaging”. WhatsApp also made it easier to prevent contacts from dragging you into annoying group conversations. Chatbots from reliable sources like the WHO can be another way to combat misinformation.
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