Power in your pocket: How to use the IFCN’s new WhatsApp chatbot

May 5, 2020
Category: Fact-Checking,IFCN

The International Fact-Checking Network’s WhatsApp chatbot puts the power of the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance at your fingertips. As of May 4, fact-checking networks in 74 countries have compiled over 4,800 fact-checks in 43 languages.

We’ve created this chatbot to give WhatsApp users easy access to that data with a few keystrokes.

Let’s get into how it works:

Say “hi”

Either click this link or text “hi” to +1 (727) 291-2606. That brings you to the bot’s welcome page:

You’ll see options to help you access fact-checks on a certain topic, learn more about fact-checking networks near you, or learn techniques to protect yourself from misinformation. Let’s walk through what the chatbot can do.

  

Press 1 – Keyword search

Right now the chatbot allows you to search for fact-checks based on English keywords, but we’re adding additional languages in the coming weeks like Spanish and Hindi.  If you type in “bleach,” two fact-checks from the database about bleach will come up. You can type the “+” to get additional fact-checks about your original search or type in a different keyword for another search.

Press 2 – Latest fact-checks

The chatbot will bring up two of the latest fact-checks from networks in your country (or whatever country code your phone is associated with).

“But IFCN, I don’t want to see fact-checks from the United States! I want to see fact-checks from Italy.”

Fear not, dear user. Type the name of whatever country you like, and the chatbot will pull up the latest from fact-checking networks in that country.

Press 3- Tips and tricks

This feature gives you six tips and tools from global fact-checking organizations for how to avoid   common misinformation traps. The chatbot lists the tips and gives a link to the full article plus detailed information on how to do a reverse image search.

Press 4 – Find fact-checkers near me

This  gives you the option to learn more about the fact-checking networks in your country working night-and-day to protect you from the COVID-19 infodemic. You’ll get links to their websites, and for those that have them, you’ll get a link to that organization’s chatbot.

If you have a cell phone number with a country code different from where you are located, or you simply want to learn more about other fact-checking networks in other countries, type in that country and the chatbot will connect you. It is case-sensitive, so make sure you capitalize your country.

Press 5 – About us

Who are these people doing all this fact-checking and fighting all this misinformation about COVID-19?  The chatbot connects you to information both about the IFCN and the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance along with links to their web pages.

It also offers you the additional option of pressing 7 to get more information about the IFCN’s Code of Principles. The chatbot gives you basic information along with a link to a YouTube video about the principles, and a link to more detailed information.

Press 6 – Privacy

This is where we let you know what data the chatbot collects and what we do with it. Bottom line: We don’t sell it. Read the full privacy statement below for more information.

Harrison Mantas is a reporter for the International Fact-Checking Network covering fact-checking and misinformation. Reach him at hmantas@poynter.org or on Twitter at @HarrisonMantas.