New Delhi | Jagran Technology Desk: In order to combat fake news related to the dreadful coronavirus, the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network on Monday launched a chatbot on WhatsApp to connect millions of users around the world.

In a statement, IFCN Director Baybars Orsek said that the chatbot is available in English but it will be available in other languages, including Hindi, Spanish and Portuguese, soon while adding that the chatbot will help the users cross-check information regarding the novel infection.

“Billions of users rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and families every month. Since bad actors use every single platform to disseminate falsehoods, to mislead others during such troubling times, fact-checkers' work is more important than ever,” Orsek said in a statement.

The statement further said that the IFCN's chatbot will connect people with independent fact-checkers in more than 70 countries and also with the largest database of debunked falsehoods related to the new coronavirus.

“The IFCN bot is primarily a way to distribute fact-checks to WhatsApp users and to provide access to a searchable database of Coronavirus debunked hoaxes. It allows users to review IFCN’s database of 4000 debunked myths, to search for fact checks by word or phrase, access to tips to protect themselves from falsehoods, and also to find out how to contact local fact-checkers in their country” Orsek said.

As per IFCN, the chabot is capable of identifying the user's country via the person's mobile country code and then providing them with their closest fact-checking organisations.

The user can then submit a piece of information for review directly to its local fact-checker or visit its website to learn more about what has been circulating in the region, it said.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp in a statement said that the platform has 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. There are now more than 40 IFCN-verified fact-checkers around the world that are using the WhatsApp Business app to debunk coronavirus hoaxes for citizens in their respective countries,” Public Policy Manager and Global Election Lead at WhatsApp Ben Supple said.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma