WhatsApp is by far the biggest cross-platform messaging application with over 1.5 billion users and it is also the primary target for spreading fake news and misinformation. On several occasions, fake messages, hoaxes have gone viral and created panic and even led to violence. Despite several efforts, the nuisance of fake news continues to be a mounting problem. But the Facebook-owned messaging app has put its millions of users in charge of fact-checking information.
The coronavirus pandemic is a serious and imminent health crisis and fake messages shared on WhatsApp about Covid-19 aren't making it easy. From false remedies to cure the deadly disease to misinformation about government notices have caused panic in people. At least now, WhatsApp users have an easy way to verify suspicious messages.
"Think about the messages that you receive, because not everything you are sent about coronavirus may be accurate. Verify the facts with other trusted official sources or fact-checkers. If you aren't sure something's true, don't forward it," WhatsApp said in a post dedicated to coronavirus.
WhatsApp fact-checking tool
WhatsApp has urged its billion-plus users to verify facts and asked to question the nature of the messages before forwarding it to others. Users might forward a certain message thinking it might do some good or raise awareness about coronavirus, but not everything you receive is accurate.
While it is the best practice to not forward every message you receive, if anything feels suspicious, it is important to not send it forward. But if you have the habit of forwarding messages in order to be active in groups, a little fact-checking can go a long way.
WhatsApp has created an information hub that provides users with the sources to make informed decisions about coronavirus and share verified information. The website is launched in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and UNDP to curb the spread of misleading information about coronavirus. WhatsApp has partnered with Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) with a $1 million grant, which is to support #CoronavirusFacts.
How to perform quick fact-check?
WhatsApp has listed IFCN Fact-Checking Organisations, where users can reach from within the app to verify any information. Verifying information or any suspicious WhatsApp forward is as simple as forwarding it to the listed phone numbers, which are available as business accounts of fact-checkers.
For Indian users, information can be verified using the following accounts:
- AFP: +91 73700 07000
- Alt News: +91 98252 55790
- Boom: +91 77009 06111 / +91 77009 06588
- Factly: +91 96031 32132
- India Today: +91 73700 07000
- Newsmobile: +91 88268 00707
- Times Fact Check: +91 85270 01433