WhatsApp chatbot now in Hindi to curb Covid-19 fake news

The International Fact-Checking Network, a unit of the Poynter Institute, on Thursday launched the Hindi version of its global chatbot for WhatsApp to fight misinformation about Covid-19.

The service was previously available in English and Spanish.

It allows people to easily check whether information about the coronavirus was classified as false by any of the independent fact-checkers in the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, coordinated by the IFCN.

“The new IFCN chatbot in Hindi will allow users to search for fact checks and get connected with fact-checkers from their smartphones,” Baybars Orsek, IFCN’s Director, said in a statement.

“The chatbot will also serve as a way to direct people to their local fact-checkers’ websites.”

WhatsApp has over 400 million users in India, where around 44 per cent of the population understands the Hindi language.

The IFCN therefore decided to translate its WhatsApp chatbot into Hindi to bust fake news around COVID-19.

“WhatsApp recently provided a grant to Poynter’s IFCN to support the valuable work of its verified signatories around the world in combating COVID-19 misinformation. We are very pleased to now be able to support IFCN’s essential fact-checking work with the launch of this important service for WhatsApp users,” said Ben Supple, Public Policy Manager & Global Election Lead at WhatsApp.

The IFCN has 11 fact-checking members in India and seven of them publish content in Hindi.

Since January, more than 80 fact-checking organizations from 74 countries have identified more than 6,600 hoaxes related to the novel coronavirus. All this information now forms the CoronaVirusFacts database.