VRT Sandbox, start-up & scale-up accelerationNewsHuman-centered interaction

Bothrs, ML6 and the Covid Buddy

January 01, 2020 - March 31, 2020

Developing a factcheck bot.

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Peter De Paepe


Bothrs designs digital experiences and offers expertise in conversational design. In a VRT Sandbox project, Bothrs collaborated with VRT NWS to tackle the increase in fake news during the Covid pandemic and reach out to a wide audience. Via a Facebook Messenger bot, audiences were able to interact with VRT NWS for 'real time' insights.

Bothrs & ML6 created a chatbot called COVID Buddy. The chatbot is a fact-checking chatbot that helps users with their self-assessment when it comes to identifying fake news. The COVID Buddy was integrated into VRT NWS’ Facebook Messenger, which was easily accessible via its Facebook page. Just hours after release, the chatbot had already gathered over 1,000 unique conversations, 200 subscribers of daily or weekly fact-checks, and 175 fact-checking requests. Due to an increase in user-generated content, there is more room for (in)voluntarily spreading fake news. Collaboration is key to guide audiences and provide transparency.