This new coronavirus information tool is expected to be available only in English at the start
But over the next few weeks, support for Arabic, Chinese, Russian, French and Spanish will be added.
The initiative also wants to stop the proliferation of myths regarding this pandemic
One of the most important challenges that have arisen around the coronavirus crisis has to do with how the false news about the pandemic has spread. Not only circulate throughout the web alleged remedies and cures that can put at risk the health of patients. Countless conspiracy theories about the transmission and origin of the pathogen have also gained popularity. As various organizations try to solve this challenge.
These include the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WhatsApp instant messaging application. Through a statement from the latter, the institutions revealed an alliance to bring reliable and accurate information about the coronavirus to the general public. This is a new feature called Health Alert. It is practically letting people have direct contact with the United Nations office about this huge pandemic.
In order to start using this feature, consumers only need to save the phone number +41 79 893 1892 on their cell phones. Once the Hi message is sent, a service is deployed that can respond to various concerns and questions from the population. The information is expected to be updated daily and available at all hours. At the same time, you'll have crucial facts about how to take care of infections, travel tips, and myth verification.
Misinformation, the other pandemic
Almost since the first cases of coronavirus were recorded in China, social media and digital platforms have struggled hard against false news and data. Facebook for example has weeks banning ads with suspected remedies for the disease. The same WhatsApp A few days ago, it launched an information center on the pandemic. And Twitter is also putting much stricter measures on its topic for its users.
The initiative between WHO and WhatsApp is great. Having a direct channel of communication with a certified health institution to find out about the coronavirus could be the best way to alleviate the negative effects of fake news. Sure, unfortunately not enough to stop the rumors. However, by making it easier and more convenient to find these data, people should be more willing to believe in these reliable sources and not just any website.
On the other hand, it has a crucial flaw. Since it requires people to manually add this contact information, then its effectiveness as anti-disinformation is reduced. In order for it to have a forceful effect among the public, it is essential that this functionality be disseminated more widely. Of course, the media plays a role in this task. But with its links to Facebook and Instagram, WhatsApp could do more.
Other measures against the coronavirus
Although misinformation has been one of the most serious effects of the pandemic, it is neither closely the only nor, under certain perspectives, the most serious. Several countries and entities around the world have decided to establish strict quarantines to stop the coronavirus. Companies like Cemex had to stop operations so as not to put your staff at greater risk. And in Mexico, chains like Soriana and Walmart have sent some packers home.
However, disinformation regarding the coronavirus has been recognized by several agents as an urgent challenge. In accordance with Mother jonesContrary to what happens with political issues, these fake news they spread more quickly because they have no left or right cut. According The GuardianIt could well be the difference between life and death. For his part, CNN He points out that the challenge is so serious that individuals have joined the battle.