The rise of the robots has turned out to be a little… friendlier than we were expecting it to be. WhatsApp has joined forces with the World Health Organisation to help fight the spread of fake news and misinformation regarding the coronavirus while Apple’s Siri has been updated to help users figure out whether or not they’re infected with the virus.
We at Stuff have said it plenty of times: Fake News Kills. Okay, maybe we don’t say it that often but we all believe it! The spread of misinformation is a plague on society, one that only makes the actual plague of COVID-19 even harder to live through. It’s become more important than ever to ensure the information we’re reading is both true and verified, lest we fall victim to questionable facts and all the consequences thereof.
To receive updates on #COVID19 from WHO add this number— +41 79 893 18 92 to your contacts and send a @WhatsApp message. You’ll automatically be registered to receive updates and also have an option to ask for more information as shown below. pic.twitter.com/WXaGd88AGf
— WHO Uganda (@WHOUganda) March 20, 2020
To help better educate people about the ongoing situation of the coronavirus and its spread around the world, WhatsApp has teamed up with the World Health Organisation to create a chatbot specifically for sharing information on COVID-19. To access this chatbot all you need to do is send “hi” to (+41 79 893 1892), which is the number for the WHO Health Alert.
The bot will prompt you for information on whatever topic surrounding the coronavirus you’re looking for as well as offering the latest data on the virus. WhatsApp is also donating $1 million to fact-checking websites to help support the strain they’re doubtless under.
In a similar move, Apple has quietly updated Siri in the US to help users figure out whether or not they’re at risk of infection. All that’s needed is to say, “How do I know if I have coronavirus?” and Siri will ask if users are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and will encourage people to stay away from others. The voice assistant will also point potentially contaminated individuals to telehealth apps on the App Store and tell them to call 911 if the symptoms are particularly pronounced. No word yet on whether or not this update will be implemented outside of the US.