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WhatsApp has launched an initiative in support of the global fight against Covid-19 to help the likes of health workers, educators, community leaders and non-profit organisations communicate with ease during these troubled times.
The popular messaging services app partnered up with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to launch the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub to provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate. The site, whatsapp.com/coronavirus, also offers general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumors and connect with accurate health information. These recommendations provide quick guidance on how small groups can make the most of WhatsApp features and will be distributed by UNDP to those coordinating local efforts.
Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, said: “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.”
WhatsApp is working with WHO and UNICEF to provide messaging hotlines for people around the world to use directly. These hotlines will provide reliable information and will be listed on the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub.
The American Facebook-owned, cross-platform messaging and voice over IP service, also donated $1m to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to ensure accuracy within the #CoronaVirusFacts.
“We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organisations on WhatsApp and to support their life saving work to debunk rumors,” added Will. “We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp.”
To date, WhatsApp has worked with a number of national health ministries and NGOs to provide factual information to users via text in several countries. As these efforts continue, the hub will be updated with the latest resources.
Achim Steiner, administrator of the UNDP, said: “Getting up to date information about COVID-19 to local communities around the world is a critical piece of the international community’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus. Partnerships with private sector companies like WhatsApp will help get this vital, real time information from the World Health Organisation and local health officials to billions of users around the globe.”
Baybars Orsek, director of IFCN, added: “The timely donation from WhatsApp will help the fact-checks published by the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance to reach wider audiences and, in consequence, help people sort facts from fiction during this avalanche of information that WHO called an ‘infodemic’.”