WHO debunks coronavirus misinformation on Facebook Messenger

The Messenger bot comes weeks after a similar launch on WhatsApp.

Chainarong Prasertthai via Getty Images

Facebook and the World Health Organization (WHO) are again teaming up to make it easier to find reliable information about the coronavirus.

The organization launched a new chatbot for Messenger, which allows Facebook users to access news and updates about the pandemic, such as the latest official statistics and press releases from the organization. Perhaps most importantly, the bot will also debunk common hoaxes and misinformation, such as claims that taking hot baths or eating garlic can help prevent people from getting sick.

The WHO's bot on Messenger debunks misinformation about the coronavirus.

Much like WHO’s presence on WhatsApp, the Facebook Messenger bot will respond to incoming messages with a series of prompts that direct users to links and other sources of official information — often with relevant emoji thrown in. The bot comes after Facebook announced it was opening Messenger to developers in order to help governments and health officials reach more people (WHO worked with software-maker Sprinklr on the project).

As Facebook sees “unprecedented” demand for its services the company has made fighting coronavirus misinformation one of its top priorities. The company has also introduced a coronavirus information hub and implemented tougher policies on hoaxes and conspiracy theories.