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Photography Christian Wiediger, via Unsplash

A WhatsApp fact-checking service will stop mums spreading misinformation

Full Fact has launched a UK service to combat false info in the age of coronavirus

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen misleading claims and misinformation spread rapidly across all forms of social media, from Tiktok’s viral videos (which saw the World Health Organisation step in to try and set the record straight) to Twitter’s trending page.

Another breeding ground for false information and straight up lies in the time of COVID-19 is the WhatsApp group chat, with friends and family spreading rumours or viral posts about ‘upcoming’ policy changes and miracle cures (even if your uncle’s friend’s girlfriend is a nurse, he’s probably not qualified to decide whether you should be social distancing or not).

WhatsApp has already taken a few steps to try and combat this wave of misinformation, including limiting the ability to forward viral messages and piloting a way to quickly double check such messages online.

Earlier this week (September 29), the independent fact checking charity Full Fact also announced that it’s partnering with the messaging app to launch a new fact checking service in the UK. “The next time you see something being shared on WhatsApp that you’re not sure of, you can forward it on directly to us, and we’ll fact check it for you,” reads a statement on Full Fact’s website.

Forwarding a message that you’re not sure about to the number Full Fact provides will lead its “team of independent, impartial fact checkers” to look into it on your behalf, and get back to you to verify its authenticity. “This helps us get a better picture of the kind of misinformation floating around WhatsApp too,” the charity adds, “so we can focus our efforts where it matters most.”

The fact checking service will be tested as a pilot for the next three months. Read Full Fact’s statement in full below, and revisit Dazed’s explainer for more tips on how to stop the spread of coronavirus lies and misinformation.