The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) has launched the Hindi version of its global fact-checking COVID-19 chatbot for WhatsApp. The service, which was previously available in English and Spanish, was developed to combat misinformation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It allows people to easily check whether information about the coronavirus was classified as false by any of the independent fact-checkers in the CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, coordinated by the IFCN.
IFCN’s bot is 100% free to use. Users should save +1 (727) 2912606 as a contact number and text the word “”नमस्ते” to get the Hindi bot started. Alternatively, users can click here to start the conversation. The bot has a very simple, short, and numerical menu. Users will only need to text numbers to navigate through it.
WhatsApp has over 400 million users in India, where around 44% of the population understands the Hindi language. The IFCN therefore decided to translate its WhatsApp chatbot into Hindi to bust fake news around COVID-19.
The IFCN has 11 fact-checking members in India and seven of them publish content in Hindi. Jagran Group’s fact-checking unit, Vishvas News, is one of them and is coordinating the translation efforts. The Hindi chatbot offers content from Vishvas News, Fact Crescendo, India Today, Newschecker, Boom Fact Check, News Mobile and The Quint. The database available in Hindi starts with more than 250 fact-checks and will be updated daily – following the same structure of the English and the Spanish chatbots.
Baybars Orsek, IFCN’s Director, commented: “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.”