“Cyber hygiene” very important just as proper handwashing, UNICEF

UNICEF Moldova launches the COVID-19 virtual chatbot, to provide speedy answers to questions that young people might have about the virus, but also to raise their awareness about the harmful effect of fake news, myths and associated stigma, IPN reports, quoting a press release of UNICEF.

To help young people them recognize disinformation, and stop the vicious cycle of fake news, UNICEF provides a digital solution for young people that helps perform an easy first check before searching the internet to see if more than one reliable source is reporting about the same thing.

The chatbot works through U-Report, a messaging innovative tool for youth developed by UNICEF, and used by more than 25 thousand young people and adolescents in Moldova. “I'm one of those people, who don’t believe in any information about this virus anymore. To my great surprise U-Report does not just do polls, but also makes sure that we, young people, are properly informed! It was quite easy to enter the keyword "Coronavirus" in the chat and then the chat bot answered my questions,” said Daniel Balan, 16, from Stefanesti Theoretical High School.

“While anxiety around COVID-19 is completely understandable, it will be important to make sure to use reliable sources to get information, or to really check any information that may appear coming from less reliable channels. “Cyber hygiene” is very important, just like properly washing your hands!” said Desiree Jongsma, UNICEF Country Representative in Moldova.

Anastasia Robuleț, 17, from Vasile Alecsandri lyceum in Ungheni, said she received useful additional information, which debunked some of the myths that already exist, like for example, that only old people are affected by the disease.

By using the COVID-19 virtual chatbot through U-Report one can learn what coronavirus is, how it spreads, if you can get the virus from pets, or whether you need to put on a mask. The answers are coming from trustful sources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC), and UNICEF.

To have up-to-date and trustworthy information on COVID-19 and stay healthy, one should join U-report on Viber or Facebook and then type CORONAVIRUS in the messages to the group and follow the instructions. The tool is available in the Romanian and Russian languages.

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