WhatsApp is not just happy being an instant messaging app in the times of the Coronavirus pandemic. In fact, the company has tied up with the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the global fact checking network Poynter to launch what is a new Coronavirus information dashboard. There is advice on how to connect remotely for work and with your loved ones, how to prevent the spread of rumors by not buying into fake news and theories as well as accessing reliable sources for the latest updates on the COVID-19 spread. The Facebook-owned WhatsApp has made this hub available globally (You can access it here)
WhatsApp is also donating $1 million to Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). These funds will support the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, a consortium of over 100 local organizations in around 45 countries. The idea is to train members about the advanced WhatsApp features, including its API. Eventually, this will help build fact-checking protocols which will prevent the spread of misinformation, rumours and fake news about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19.
This comes at a time when there is significant concern about the spread of misinformation and fake news about the Coronavirus, including fake treatments that could do more harm than good to someone who tries them out. At this time, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter have also doubled down on efforts to weed out misinformation and sources that are not reliable, in the hope to get the correct information out for their users. At this time, the WhatsApp Coronavirus Hub is available only via the web browser and isn't yet integrated within the WhatsApp app on Android phones or the Apple iPhone, and we aren't sure if there are any plans at this time.