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How To Check if That WhatsApp Message on Coronavirus is Fake News

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Image courtesy Poynter

WhatsApp continues to be part of the fight against the spread of misinformation thanks to a new bot. In partnership with the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), users around the world can now use a chatbot on how true or false messages sent to them are. The bot is educated with 4000 debunked and is able to easily check whether a piece of news about COVID-19 is true or not.

This service comes shortly after WhatsApp had already started taking several measures to control this fake news spread. This included the recent decision to reduce the limit of spreading frequently forwarded messages. According to WhatsApp, there has been a 70% reduction in the number of highly forwarded, after this limit was enforced.

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IFCN’s chatbot, on the other hand, is totally free to use. To begin using the services, users have to save the number +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact. Once you save the number, send a “hi” to the bot and wait for an automated message to come by. The bot throws a message that claims to offer service 24/7 in order to bust myths and check facts about COVID-19. Users are then asked to choose between several options:

  1. Search for fact checks
  2. Latest fact checks
  3. Tips to fight misinformation
  4. Find fact-checkers near me
  5. About us
  6. Privacy

Typing each number assigned to the options will then get you to navigate further and use the bot for all these functions. For instance, typing 1 gets the bot to ask you to send a short sentence related to the fact you want to check. Feedback messages will then be sent back after IFCN checks through its databases to see all relevant claims surrounding the topic. The bot is currently available only in English with other international languages promised to follow soon.

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