San Francisco                -           Facebook on Monday began enlisting outside developers to create ways its Messenger service can help health organizations battling the novel coronavirus. The social network also invited software savants to take part in an online “hackathon” aimed at creating ways to use Messenger to ease social-distancing and deliver accurate information about the pandemic, according to Messenger vice president Stan Chudnovsky in a blog post.

He unveiled a global program intended to connect government health organizations and UN agencies with developers who can create ways to use Messenger share accurate information and speed up responses to people’s questions.

Software makers, for example, could help agencies automate answering common questions, to allow staff to tackle more challenging tasks.

Developers can also help organizations use software to quickly distribute updated information.

UNICEF and Pakistan’s Ministry of National Health  already use Messenger to keep people posted about COVID-19, according to the Facebook-owned messaging platform.

Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp recently launched a free World Health Organization alert designed to answer questions about the coronavirus and debunk “coronavirus myths.”

The service, launching in English, is to expand in coming weeks to include Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.

WhatsApp last week launched a Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with WHO and United Nations organizations.

WhatsApp, which claims more than a billion users, issued a $1 million grant to an International Fact Checking Network alliance devoted to reporting on coronavirus rumors spreading on messaging services.