India Launches WhatsApp Chatbot To Curb Fake News On Coronavirus
The Indian government has launched a chatbot on WhatsApp to address user queries and quell rumours on the coronavirus pandemic.
The WhatsApp chatbot, ‘MyGov Corona Helpdesk’, can be accessed by sending a text to +91 90131 51515. It is equipped to address various Covid-19 FAQs, such as symptoms of the disease, precautions against contracting the virus, helpline numbers, affected cases in the region, government advisories (including travel).
According to sources, the chatbot has been developed and implemented by Jio Haptik Technologies, a conversational AI platform and a subsidiary of Reliance Industries.
Misinformation and fake news circulating on social media is fueling public fears around coronavirus, and the tendency of mass-forwarding messages without verifying content has triggered rumour-mongering and, at times, panic.
“The government along with Haptik is looking to curb such misinterpretations by introducing the ‘MyGov Corona Helpdesk’. With the Whatsapp user base in India crossing over 400 million, this is an ideal medium to route basic hygiene practices around the virus,” sources said.
The move is aimed at curbing circulation of false information that can cause mass hysteria, while at the same time educating the population about the present scenario and promoting awareness.
The chatbot is backed by verified data from the Ministry of Health, and is updated on a real-time basis. The chatbot has been developed for the government, free of cost by Jio Haptik, sources said.