To help slow the seemingly endless spread of COVID-19-related misinformation on social media, the Poynter International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) launched a chatbot on WhatsApp to help you sniff out coronavirus-related hoaxes. The bot cross-references questions sent by users with a database of information collected from over 100 independent fact-checkers to help you convince your friends and loved ones that their opinions are terrible and wrong.
How to use the official WhatsApp coronavirus fact-checker
The bot only works in English for now, but WhatsApp is also translating it for Hindi, Portuguese, and Spanish. (It might take a few days before these languages are available.)
To summon the bot:
Open this link then press “send” to open the bot in WhatsApp automatically, or open the WhatsApp app and save “+1 (727) 2912606" as a contact.
Start a conversation by texting the bot “hi.” It will respond with instructions on how to use the service.
Reply again with “1" to start COVID-19 fact-checking.
You can now reply with a question or send a keyword related to the topic you want to ask. The bot will then respond with any relevant information it has. For example, texting “surface” will return information on how long the virus is currently believed to survive on most surfaces, which can be as long as 72 hours on stable surfaces like stainless steel or plastic according to the researched cited by the IFCN bot.