WhatsApp announced on Monday (4) the launch of a bot as a measure to combat fake news involving Covid-19. Created by the International Facts Verification Network of the Poynter Institute (IFCN), the robot helps to check information circulating in the messenger with a consultation network via chat. Users have access to independent fact checkers, able to check the information potential of a content by classifying it by markers as "false" or "misleading".
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With the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, several false news and scams circulated in the messenger, totaling more than 11 million mailings and accesses in Brazil. The chatbot emerges as a way found by the IFCN to allow "users to search and connect with fact checkers in their countries from their smartphones" serving as "a way to direct people to local verification sites", as says Baybars Orsek, director of IFCN.
WhatsApp announces bot to fight fake news about Covid-19 Photo: Rodrigo Fernandes / dnetc
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The chatbot database, called CoronaVirusFacts, is formed by more than 80 fact verification organizations that operate in 74 different countries. Since January, more than 4,000 rumors related to the coronavirus have been denied by these institutions, with information updated daily by the IFCN.
To access the tool, you need to save the bot as a contact on your cell phone at +1 (727) 2912606, or access it via the address (poy.nu/ifcnbot), and send a message with the word " hi "to start the conversation. Then, it is possible to start checking news about the Covid-19 pandemic that has already been checked by professional verifiers.
For now, the platform is only available in English, but Portuguese, Spanish and Hindi should be added soon. The bot accesses information that has already been verified and is close to the user, assigning "fake" stamps to fake news, and "misleading" for headlines that are not exactly correct. It is also possible to access the verified news by clicking on the links sent by the robot himself, and to contact the responsible local verification site.
The IFCN also highlights WhatsApp's commitments to users' privacy by pointing out that the bot is not able to delete or monitor messages and verify information in groups or private chats, since all conversations are protected with end-to-end encryption at Android or iPhone (iOS) phones.
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