WhatsApp can be more than a messaging app -- in Europe, India and other parts of the world, it's a social network in its own right. To help avoid the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, the company -- which is owned by Facebook -- created an information hub that provides advice on how users can look after friends and family, stay cognizant of the latest developments and share verified information. The website was launched in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNDP, and is meant to help in more than just a social context -- healthcare providers, educators, local governments and businesses can learn how to best connect with one another while social distancing is advised.
WhatsApp also provided the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) with a $1 million grant. The funds are meant to support the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which is a consortium of over 100 local organizations across 45 counties. Members will receive training in advanced WhatsApp features, such as its API. This will help build fact-checking protocols so that local communities can respond to potentially misleading or harmful rumors about the pandemic and the COVID-19 virus.
Misinformation can spread quickly when people are highly concerned about an issue, and social media only makes it easier for rumors and unverified claims to be repeated. By teaming up with authorities like the WHO and UNICEF, WhatsApp seems to be taking the issue seriously. Hopefully these efforts help users share information more responsibly.