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WhatsApp hands out cash to oppose vaccine skepticism

Reuters received the biggest grant.
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The Vaccine Grant Program, a partnership between WhatsApp and the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), has awarded $500,000 in grant funding to seven fact-checking organizations across the globe to support their efforts in fighting “COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.”

“Fact-checkers around the world have been working around the clock to inform the public about the importance and safety of clinically approved vaccines to end the pandemic,” said IFCN Director Baybars Örsek. “We are truly excited to see the diverse set of innovative tactics to reach out to more people with factual information during this global vaccination rollout.”

The purpose of the grant is to help the organizations scale-up their COVID-19 vaccines skepticism fighting projects. Many countries around the globe are in the first stages of their vaccine programs.

Due to the urgency of “credible” sources of vaccine information, recipients of the grant have until May 31 to launch their projects.
The organizations that have received funding from the grant include, Reuters (USA), VishvasNews (India), Liputan6.com (Indonesia), Aos Fatos (Brazil), EFE Verifica (Spain), Africa Check (South Africa), and Full Fact (UK). Reuters received the largest portion of the grant, $97,000, for its ¡Confirma! Project, which focuses on the Hispanic population in the US and Mexico.

The seven organizations were selected from a pool of over 70 applicants. The selection panel included individuals from the fact-checking community, as well as representatives from both WhatsApp and IFCN.

“The selected projects represent well the versatile efforts of the global fact-checking community to improve its efficiency in fighting health and vaccine-related misinformation,” said Laurens Lauer, an associate researcher at the Duisburg-Essen University who was part of the selection panel. “Their recognition is truly deserved.”

This is the second collaboration between WhatsApp and IFCN to fight COVID-19 misinformation.

In 2020, the two partnered to support the efforts of the CoronaVirus Facts Alliance, which created a searchable database of reliable information vetted by more than 90 fact-checking organizations from 70 countries across the globe.

“We are proud to partner with the Poynter Institute and their global network of fact-checking organizations to support their critical work to connect people worldwide to life saving facts around COVID-19 vaccines,” said Orlando Watson, Strategic Partnerships Lead at WhatsApp. “We have also partnered with more than 150 government organizations and global health leaders to connect our users to official sources of information on COVID-19, as well as schedule their vaccine appointments.”

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