The Indian government has set up a chatbot on WhatsApp to help citizens get answers to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MyGov Corona Helpdesk is designed to combat misinformation about the coronavirus that could worsen the pandemic.
A chatbot created by the Indian government
The chatbot is accessible to everyone on Whatsapp. It can provide information about the coronavirus, how it spreads, and what to do if you have some of the symptoms. The chatbot gets its responses from the Indian Ministry of Health, which reflects the central objective of fighting rumors and false stories that may spread about the coronavirus. WhatsApp is very popular in India, which makes a chatbot on the platform a good way to share accurate information with the population.
The chatbot is part of broader government efforts to combat disinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic. The Electronics and IT ministry sent a notice on Friday explicitly asking social media companies to tell users not to post false information about the disease to warn their users not to post false news that may cause panic in the public and disturb social tranquility.
“It has been reported in the media that there is a trend for the spread of false information and the sharing of anonymous data related to the Coronavirus in several social networks,” said the notice.
“Intermediaries are invited to launch an awareness campaign on their platforms so that users do not download / circulate false news / information measures concerning the Coronavirus which are likely to create panic among the public and disrupt order public and social tranquility. ”
Partnerships with chatbots
India’s initiative to combine social media, artificial intelligence and the Ministry of Health’s database is becoming a standard model for delivering accurate information about the coronavirus to the public.
Microsoft offers a chatbot model for the same purpose, to healthcare providers, who can also turn to Orbita’s interactive voice and text chatbot or the free version of its virtual assistant from Hyro, focused on the coronavirus. The main difference is that these chatbots are integrated into websites or voice applications of health organizations, unlike WhatsApp.
But the crucial element of all these systems is precision. To be useful, chatbots rely on reputable sources. The fear of misinformation explains why Alexa and Google Assistant have removed all voice applications related to the coronavirus from their catalogs.