With more than five billion downloads on the Google Play Store, WhatsApp is perhaps the most popular messaging app in the world.
In fact, it won't be wrong to call the Facebook-owned instant messaging service a social media in itself, especially in countries like India and other Asian and European countries where billions of WhatsApp messages are shared among billions of users everyday. And while most of these messages are just personal chats, others are 'forwarded' messages that carry news and information which may not always be true.
False coronavirus rumours on WhatsApp
The sheer number of WhatsApp users makes it a very big media for disseminating information, and with the current coronavirus pandemic situation, billions of people are desperately seeking information about what's happening around them and how to stay safe, from the internet and TV and most of them are getting their daily dose on their WhatsApp. Unfortunately, there's a lot of false information out there.
WhatsApp's coronavirus information hub
Since misinformation spreads quite easily and quickly when people are most concerned on social media, WhatsApp has launched a new coronavirus information hub in a bid to curb the spread of misinformation about the deadly pandemic and provide people with simple, factual information and advice on how they can look after friends and family, while keeping track of the latest developments during these testing times.
Sharing coronavirus information responsibly on WhatsApp
The website also provides tips about how to responsibly use WhatsApp during the pandemic, helping prevent the spread of misinformation and rumors and share only verified information.
The coronavirus information hub by WhatsApp has been launched in partnership with authorities such as the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and UNDP, so it's quite reliable. The measure is not just meant to help the general public but also healthcare professionals, educators, local governments and business by advising them on how to best connect with one another while social distancing is advised.
$1 million grant to help curb misleading information on COVID-19
WhatsApp has also announced a $1 million grant to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) to support the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which is a consortium of over 100 local organisations from 45 countries. The members of this alliance will receive training in advanced WhatsApp features such as its API, which will in turn help them build fact-checking protocols through which local communities can respond whenever misleading rumours about the COVID-19 virus pandemic arise.
All this suggests the Facebook owned company is taking the issue seriously and hopefully these efforts help users share information more responsibly on the platform.