• On May 4, Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checkers Network (IFCN) said it is launching a bot on WhatsApp to curb fake information related to coronavirus. The bot‘s aim is to let people quickly check myths about the disease in 70 countries. IFCN said 80 fact-checking organizations from 74 countries have identified more than 4,000 coronavirus-related hoaxes since January. To use the bot, the user saves +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact or clicks on http://poy.nu/ifcnbot on an iPhone, sends a “hi”, and gets a menu which includes options to see the latest fact-checks, search by keyword, see tips on fighting misinformation, or link to other validated fact-checking organizations. The bot was financed with a $1M grant from WhatsApp.[1]

  • On April 7, imposed a new limit on message forwarding: if a user receives a frequently forwarded message – one which has been forwarded more than five times – they will only be able to send it on to a single chat at a time. The change does not completely prevent widespread forwarding, since a user can repeatedly hit the forward button.[2] (In 2019, WhatsApp reduced the number times a message could be forwarded: users could only forward one message to five Group sizes were limited to 256 members. In 2018, WhatsApp reduced the number of times a message could be forwarded from 250 chats to 20). Forwarded messages and chain messages are labeled with a double arrow icon.

  • On April 6, a group of Democratic senators sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg saying Facebook hasn't done enough to stop coronavirus misinformation on WhatsApp. Sens. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Richard J. Durbin (Illinois) and Robert Menendez (N.J.) acknowledged the encryption challenge but called on Zuckerberg to take more drastic steps, including a prompt asking a user whether they have verified a message is accurate before they forward it to another contact.[3]

  • On March 20, launched WHO Health Alert, a chatbot developed with the World Health Organization that gives people (2B, in 4 languages) access to accurate information about COVID-19[4].

  • WhatsApp is partnering with governments to create official WhatsApp accounts users can reach out to for accurate information about the virus, including India's "MyGov Corona Helpdesk" and the WHO's WhatsApp business account.[5]

  • WhatsApp announced that it is donating $1 million to the CoronaVirusFacts and DatosCoronaVirus alliance, created by IFCN in January this year to further COVID-19 fact checking efforts.[6]

  • Users can forward messages to special accounts that can verify information, and world leaders, including in Ireland, are asking their citizens to stop spreading misinformation on the app.

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