Facebook launches fact-checking service on WhatsApp in Italy to fight coronavirus hoaxes

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MILAN (Reuters) – Facebook Inc. launched a service in Italy to check the accuracy of information on coronavirus circulating on its messaging platform WhatsApp, the U.S. tech firm said on Thursday.

In a fresh attempt to fight manipulated content, Facebook said it was working with local fact checking service Facta which is analyzing content circulating on WhatsApp, including video, audio or photos.

Users can send content to Facta through a WhatsApp message to check it is authentic.

WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in Italy, the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak in Europe.

Traffic on the platform has spiked since the government put the country under lockdown as users turned to social media to keep in touch with relatives and friends.

But the messaging app has also been a vehicle for hoaxes over alleged dramatic situations in hospitals and videos claiming that the virus, which has killed 13,915 people in Italy, had been created in a laboratory – or did not exist at all.

WhatsApp, which has 2 billion users worldwide, has been trying to find ways to stop the platform being used to spread fake news.

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