The World Health Organization enabled a WhatsApp line so that users can learn about the coronavirus. The announcement comes amid a massive disinformation campaign taking place in the courier service, where conspiracy theories and miracle remedies are shared by thousands of people.
To the send a message by WhatsApp the number +41 79 893 1892 will be offered a menu of options in which we can choose a specific topic for which we want information. Thus, for example, 1 is to obtain the updated numbers of infections and deaths by region, 2 for vital tips to avoid contagion and 3 for frequently asked questions.
Being a automated service, we only have to enter the numbers in response. There is also a section dedicated to the most common myths about the coronavirus, tips for people who travel, WHO official news and an option to share with our contacts.
A drawback at this time is that the information is only in English, although WhatsApp announced that will be available in Spanish in the coming weeks. The Swiss code number is an official WHO company account and this is noted at the top of the WhatsApp chat.
Fighting disinformation about the coronavirus
One of several factors that is favoring the pandemic is the disinformation that surrounds it. A frequent theme among friends or family is remedies against the coronavirus that come through messages forwarded on WhatsApp. Miraculous cures from alleged doctors or conspiracy theories that point to a problem generated by the trade war between the United States and China are some examples
According to Wired, WhatsApp has confirmed that a million people who are already using the system of WHO automated messages, although no formal announcement has been made. “We do not know what is coming and we see WhatsApp as a vital line for people to communicate when they need it.” said Will Cathcart, director of the company.
A few days ago WhatsApp announced an investment of a million dollars to fight disinformation on the platform and enabled a page with tips to avoid spreading rumors. Because messages are end-to-end encrypted, it is not possible for a third party – such as WHO or another organization – to verify the accuracy of the messages.
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