In an effort to fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the global tech community is taking intrinsic measures to help people during this public health crisis. Apple via its Apple News is trying to provide credible reports from authentic media agencies; Microsoft has come up with a dedicated COVID-19 tracking website with information aggregated from CDC, WHO, etc.
Google too has joined the team and is taking action to remove fake videos on Coronavirus on YouTube and block ads that attempted to capitalize on coronavirus outbreak. Now WhatsApp in its latest move has introduced Coronavirus Information Hub to offer guidance and reduce the spread of COVID-19 related misinformation on the cross-platform messaging service.
WhatsApp’s Coronavirus Information Hub would provide simple guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profit entities, local governments and local businesses that use the platform to communicate.
The Facebook-owned instant messaging service launched the Information Hub in partnership with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and UNDP. WhatsApp said that the hub will offer general tips and resources for users across the globe so that they get accurate health information and reduce the spread of rumors.
In collaboration with WHO and UNICEF, WhatsApp is said to provide messaging hotlines for people worldwide to use it directly. These hotlines will be listed on the Coronavirus Information Hub, although it hasn’t been added yet.
WhatsApp’s initiative will at least help bring back people’s good grace about the app, given it had been under the radar for being used to spread misinformation that caused mass violence and even mob-lynching in countries like India. Notably, WhatsApp has more than half a billion daily active users.
Alongside the Coronavirus Information Hub launch, WhatsApp has also announced that it is donating $1 million to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN). The grant is said to support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFactsAlliance which extends to more than 100 local organizations in at least 45 countries. Meanwhile, its parent company Facebook is reportedly offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to small businesses in 30 countries that are impacted by the pandemic.
As coronavirus continues to spread in countries around the world infecting more than 1,90,000 people and taking over thousands of lives, these small but utile initiatives will help people to access authentic information and stay safe.