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Covid-19 fact-checking chatbot for WhatsApp gets a Hindi version


PCHF Tech News
Jan 10, 2015
Having first launched a fact-checking chatbot for WhatsApp in English and Spanish, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) has now followed it up with a Hindi version. It's main purpose is to help users verify information being shared around the Covid-19 pandemic.

The chatbot, which is free to use for everyone on WhatsApp, helps those communicating in Hindi language to verify data disseminated around the coronavirus and information being shared freely across the messaging service. It's main purpose is to combat misinformation during the current phase of Unlock-1 that India is witnessing.

The app allows users to verify whether information around the Covid-19 is classified as false by any of the independent fact-checkers in the CoronaVirusFacts alliance, a group coordinated by the IFCN, which was launched in 2015 by the Poynter Institute as a means to support the growing tribe of fact-checkers on the internet.

How to get started?

Users seeking to access the chatbot in Hindi should save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact on their smartphones and then text the word "नमस्ते" to get the Hindi bot started. Another option is to just click on this link to start the conversation. The bot has a short numerical menu that only requires text numbers to navigate.

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, boasts of more than 400 million users in India, of which more than 44% understand and communicate in the Hindi language. This was the prime mover behind IFCN's decision to have a Hindi version of their chatbot busting fake news around the coronavirus pandemic.

Fact-checking sources

The Hindi chatbot would provide content gleaned from the Jagran Group's fact-checking unit Vishwas News, besides India Today, News Mobile, The Quaint, Fact Crescendo and Newschecker. The database would have more than 250 fact-checks to start with and more would get added on a daily basis. These sources are part of IFCN's fact-checking team in India.

In a prepared statement, IFCN Director Baybars Orsek said, "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. Since January, IFCN’s CoronavirusFacts Alliance has been utilizing the capacity of the fact-checking community to help users to sort truth from fiction by debunking falsehoods around the COVID-19 pandemic. The new IFCN chatbot in Hindi will allow users to search for fact checks and get connected with fact-checkers from their smartphones. The chatbot will also serve as a way to direct people to their local fact-checkers’ websites.”


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