WhatsApp has launched a plan around helping governments, health organisations and community workers communicate truthful, helpful information to people during the global coronavirus pandemic.
The company has already been working with governments and NGOs in Singapore, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, and Indonesia to provide factual information to people at scale, but it plans to extend this, with a hub that will collate all materials for people to use.
The hub, in partnership with World Health Organization, Unicef, and UNDP, will be aimed at health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses, giving them provide simple and actionable guidance for communicating using WhatsApp during the crisis.
The company is also working with the WHO and UNICEF on messaging hotlines that people can use to access reliable information from the hub.
Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said: “Partnerships with private sector companies like WhatsApp will help get this vital, real-time information from the World Health Organization and local health officials to billions of users around the globe.”
The company is also giving $1m to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), which it says will be used to fund the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, a group which includes 100 local organizations in over 45 countries.
Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, said: “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. 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 rumors. We will also continue to work directly with health ministries around the world for them to provide updates right within WhatsApp.”
Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, has already issued access to funding for small business clients that will suffer from reduced consumer spending and social distancing during the crisis. The company has a fund of $100m for small business grants and advertising credit.