WhatsApp gives away $1MILLION to fight coronavirus hoaxes – and sets up COVID-19 'info hub'
WHATSAPP has pledged $1million (£830,000) in the fight against coronavirus fake news.
The Facebook-owned chat app has also launched a coronavirus "information hub" in partnership with the World Health Organisation.
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The coronavirus pandemic has been raging across the world – forcing widespread lockdowns in multiple countries.
But The Sun has also revealed how coronavirus conspiracy theories and COVID-19 scams have been flooding the internet.
This is piling pressure on social media giants to clean up the web – and shut down fake news before it can spread.
To help, WhatsApp is handing $1million to the Poynter Insitute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).
The IFCN supports more than 100 local organisations in at least 45 countries.
They act as a resource for debunking fake news – and clarifying when viral stories are genuinely true, an outright lie, or somewhere in between.
Facebook's chat app has also set up the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub, which you can find here.
It's intended to provide simple guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, businesses and other organisations that use WhatsApp to communicate.
It also offers general tips and resources for users to help reduce the spread of rumours.
"We know that our users are reaching out on WhatsApp more than ever at this time of crisis, whether it’s to friends and loved ones, doctors to patients, or teachers to students," said Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp.
"We wanted to provide a simple resource that can help connect people at this time.
"We are also pleased to be able to partner with the Poynter Institute to help grow the amount of fact-checking organizations on WhatsApp and to support their life saving work to debunk rumours.
"We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp."
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Tech giants have come under increasing pressure to help tackle the coronavirus crisis.
Yesterday, Facebook announced that it would give away $100million to help small businesses survive the outbreak.
The money will be shared across 30,000 organisations in more than 30 countries where Facebook employees live and work.
Some of the fund will be delivered directly as cash grants.
And some of it will be provided as advertising credits to use on Facebook's gargantuan ad platform.
Facebook's Business Hub is also available for all businesses to access.
It was previously a resource for Facebook employees and health experts, but has now been opened up to the wider woreld.
And Facebook has pledged to create new "virtual training" to support businesses operating during the coronavirus outbreak.
And this week, Facebook teamed up with rival tech giants Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit to crack down on coronavirus scams and fake news.
It came as The Sun revealed how coronavirus scams and COVID-19 conspiracy theories have been spreading like wildfire.
Hackers and scammers are preying on the confusion and interest in coronavirus online.
Pressure is ramping up for tech firms to do more.
In a joint statement, they wrote: "We are working closely together on COVID-19 response efforts.
"We're helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms.
"And sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.
"We invite other companies to join us as we work to keep our communities healthy and safe."
Earlier this week, Twitter created a brand new handwashing emoji to help fight germs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The emoji is backed by the World Health Organisation – and shows how social media is becoming a tool to tackle the outbreak.
Any Twitter user can trigger the emoji by using any one of four hashtags.
They are: #handwashing, #SafeHands, #HandWashChallenge and #WashYourHands.
The #SafeHands campaign is backed by the WHO, which has been working overtime to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebrevesus, the WHO director general, praised the emoji while sharing a video of himself washing his hands.
In a tweet, Dr Tedros wrote: "Thank you Twitter for such a nice addition to our #SafeHands challenge!
"We @WHO love it and hope the challenge will generate videos as creative as the new #HandWashing emoji!"
Covid-19 originated in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has since travelled rapidly across the globe.
People can spread the virus to each other through close contact or bodily fluids.
An infection causes flu-like symptoms and is thought to kill around 1% to 3.4% cases – largely the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions.
The virus has killed more than 7,900 individuals worldwide, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University.
In other news, Instagram has banned dangerous, reckless and insensitive coronavirus filters.
Criminals are taking advantage of the Covid-19 outbreak by sending scam emails claiming to be from the WHO.
And, we debunked some of the most outrageous coronavirus conspiracy theories.
What else do you think tech firms should be doing to tackle the coronavirus crisis? Let us know in the comments!
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