Coronavirus: Facebook, Indian govt creates messenger chatbot for COVID-19 info; adds Hindi capability

Facebook users can start accessing the Corona Helpdesk Chatbot and reach out to the Ministry of Health for authentic news on coronavirus, official updates, precautionary measures, and emergency helpline numbers.

27th Mar 2020
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Along with the Ministry of Health and MyGov, Facebook has launched a Corona Helpdesk Chatbot on Messenger to raise awareness, provide authentic and accurate information, and bust fake news about coronavirus.  The chatbot has both English and Hindi language capabilities.


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Facebook users can start accessing the Corona Helpdesk Chatbot and reach out to the Ministry of Health for authentic news, official updates, precautionary measures, and emergency helpline numbers.  


To contact the chatbot, users can go to the Facebook page on MyGov Corona Hub and then start a chat by typing ‘Get Started’, which will prompt them to either type in a query or choose from a list of frequently asked questions. Depending on the question, users will receive verified information in the form of a video, infographic, or text. 


The initiative comes in the backdrop of a sea of misinformation that has been floating around on WhatsApp and other social media platforms regarding the novel coronavirus.


Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook India said, "In these difficult times, people are using our family of apps more than ever to stay connected with friends, family, and communities. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the government across ministries with communications tools and resources to share timely, accurate information on the coronavirus to keep people safe and informed. We will continue to do everything we can to help the country's efforts."


Before this, the government had also rolled out a WhatsApp chatbot - MyGov Corona Helpdesk - to spread awareness on the coronavirus in real-time. When the chatbot receives a message, it uses machine learning (ML) to understand and address the query. Users can text on 93213-98773 to get all the required information. The government roped in conversational AI startup Haptik to build the tool.



(Edited by Suman Singh)

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