The BBC has launched a WhatsApp service in West Africa to spread information, news alerts, and provide what they’re calling a “lifeline” to people in the affected areas. It will be available in both English and French; you can access it at +44 7702 348651.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service in Africa and while it’s the first time the BBC has used it to spread information on health news, it has used WhatsApp and other messaging services like BBM and WeChat in the past for breaking news alerts. In a statement, Director of the World Service Group Peter Horrocks said:
This outbreak of Ebola shows no signs of abating. Myths and misinformation about Ebola are still widespread – and life-threatening. The BBC is trusted by millions of people in the affected countries, so we are stepping up our efforts to reach people with timely information, whether they’re listening to the radio, watching TV or using chat apps. We’re committed to playing our part and will continue looking at new ways to reach audiences, for example by developing programmes in local vernacular languages.