Recognizing that accurate information is essential to combat the novel coronavirus, WhatsApp today announced a $1 million support to the International Fact-Checking Network to expand the battle against misinformation related to COVID-19.
The grant will be used to support the journalism of the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus alliance, the collaborative project that IFCN launched in January and now includes more than 100 fact-checkers in 45 countries.
With the support of WhatsApp, members of this initiative and the broader IFCN fact-checking community will have the opportunity to deliver their fact-checks in new formats, conduct studies and research on health-related misinformation, and also access to new tools such as the WhatsAppBusiness application and the WhatsApp API.
“WhatsApp’s timely donation will help the fact-checks published by the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance reach a wider audience and help people separate fact from fiction during this avalanche of information that the WHO has called an ‘infodemic,'” he said. Baybars Orsek, director of the IFCN.
Orsek added that the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network will help journalists report on the ways health-related hoaxes are spread on WhatsApp in different formats, as well as make tools available for fact-checkers to use. detect and debunk misinformation in the messaging app.
IFCN will soon be scheduling discussions with fact-checkers to understand their needs and from that draft a series of focused projects. Among the possible projects:
- Delivering training at scale on the WhatsApp Business app
- Leverage existing fact checkers in the WhatsApp Business API today and establish a framework to expand access equitably over time
- Conduct research and analysis on the effectiveness of WhatsApp products for fact-checkers and the problem of health misinformation in the app in general.
“We know that our users are reaching out to WhatsApp more than ever in this time of crisis, whether it’s with friends and loved ones, doctors with patients, or teachers with students. We wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people right now,” said Will Cathcart, CEO of WhatsApp.
“We are also pleased to partner with the International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute to help grow the number of fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp and support their life-saving work to debunk rumours. We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world to provide updates within WhatsApp,” added Cathcart.