WhatsApp is helping people stay connected during coronavirus pandemic; here’s how

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: March 19, 2020 7:52:34 am

WhatsApp has announced a dedicated hub for coronavirus information.

WhatsApp has announced a dedicated coronavirus information hub, which will be in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The Facebook-owned messaging app is the latest to create a dedicated hub to ensure that accurate information around the pandemic is made available to users. Its parent companies Facebook and Instagram are already taking steps to combat misinformation around the issue.

The company has also announced a $1 million donation to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

“We know that our users are reaching out on WhatsApp more than ever at this time of crisis, whether it’s to friends and loved ones, doctors to patients, or teachers to students. We wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time. We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organisations on WhatsApp and to support their life saving work to debunk rumors. We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp,” Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp said in a statement.

Read more: Coronavirus vs misinformation: What Google, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and others are doing

What is the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub?

The WhatsApp Coronavirus information hub will be available at whatsapp.com/coronavirus and will give “simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses” who are using the app to stay in touch with their friends and family.

The website will also offer “general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumours and connect with accurate health information.” The hub asks people to use trusted sources such WHO’s website or rely on the official websites of their national health ministry.

The website also asks users to think before forwarding messages on the topic of coronavirus. It asks users to verify the facts with other trusted official sources or fact checkers and to not forward message if they are not sure about the veracity.

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The recommendations  in these hub will show how groups can make the most of WhatsApp features. Information will be distributed by UNDP to those coordinating local efforts to contain the spread of the virus and spread awareness about the pandemic.

WhatsApp is also working with the WHO and UNICEF to provide messaging hotlines for people around the world to use directly. These hotlines will provide reliable information and will be listed on the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, according to the company.

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