WhatsApp is attacking the COVID-19 pandemic on two fronts: via a new coronavirus information hub and a $1 million donation to Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
The WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub—in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, and UNDP—presents guidance for health care professionals, educators, non-profits, governments, and local businesses. It also offers tips for the platform’s two billion global users to stay connected and informed, like tapping into groups, voice, and video calls or consulting trusted sources for the latest guidelines.
“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,” Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, said in a statement. “We wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time.”
The site, meanwhile, urges folks to think twice about the messages they receive and share, “because not everything you are sent about coronavirus may be accurate,” according to a company blog post. Remember to always verify facts with official sources before forwarding it to someone else.
In its continued support of fact checking, WhatsApp’s $1 million grant to the IFCN supports the CoronavirusFacts Alliance, which includes more than 100 organizations in 45 countries. This timely donation, IFCN Director Baybars Orsek said, will “help people sort fact from fiction during this avalanche of information.”
“We are … pleased to partner with the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp and to support their life-saving work to debunk rumors,” Cathcart said.
The company continues to work with health ministries around the world to provide updates directly within WhatsApp.