IFCN launches WhatsApp chatbot for fact checking

The International Fact-Checking Network launches an easy-to-use tool for WhatsApp users who want to check COVID-19 rumors

MANILA, Philippines – The Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) launched a WhatsApp chatbot on Monday, May 4, to make it easier for users to check whether content about COVID-19 has already been debunked by professional fact checkers.

The chatbot is free to use. Users can save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact number or go to poy.nu/ifcnbot to get started. Sending the word “hi” will launch the chatbot.

The chatbot has a simple, short, and numerical menu. It can give results to searches for specific and latest fact checks, the nearest fact checkers, and tips about fighting misinformation. It also has a global directory of fact-checking organizations.

The chatbot’s backbone is the IFCN’s CoronaVirusFacts database, which is the largest collaboration of fact checkers around the world ever. Since January, more than 80 fact checkers from 74 countries have identified over 4,800 hoaxes related to COVID-19.

In the Philippines, Rappler and Vera Files are part of this worldwide fact-checking effort. These two organizations are the only verified signatories to the IFCN in the country.

“Hundreds of millions of users rely on WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and families every day. 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,” said IFCN director Baybars Orsek.

The chatbot is initially available in English, but other languages such as Hindi and Spanish will follow soon, the IFCN said.

WhatsApp recently provided a grant to IFCN to support its fact-checking initiative. “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,” said Ben Supple, public policy manager and global election lead at WhatsApp.

The IFCN chatbot was built on the WhatsApp Business API using Turn.io technology, the impact tool for WhatsApp. – Rappler.com

Rappler IQ, Rappler’s fact check project, is a verified signatory of the IFCN code of principles. You can learn more about it here.