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