Five ways UN is fighting ‘infodemic’ of misinformation
Governments and public health professionals are battling hard to counter the spread of coronavirus but during these testing times, there is a wave of misinformation circulating around social networks particularly through Whatsapp and in order to respond to the health crisis effectively, it is important to curb down the flow of misinformation.
The relevant governments and international health agencies like WHO are providing regular updates to the media and to the public through their own communication channels but the spread of unreliable information is hurting global effort to defeat COVID-19 pandemic.
By dispelling rumours, fake news, and messages, UN is working to spread accurate information and messages of hope and solidarity as fear, uncertainty, and proliferation of fake news have the potential to weaken the national and global response to the virus.
To counter not only Corona virus but any problem, the transmission of accurate information should be a primary objective and in case of Corona virus authoritative info based on science to counter myths are to be disseminated. For this purpose, WHO has established Information Network for Epidemics that unites technical and social media teams working closely to track and respond to misinformation, myths and rumours and provide tailored information and evidence for action. Moreover UN missions on the ground are using radio and social media to dispel rumours and counter misinfo.
Communication businesses and services can prove to be a handy tool to counter misinformation. WHO has partnered with WhatsApp and Facebook to launch a dedicated messaging services in several languages that can reach up to 2 billion people. Chatbots are also designed by partnering with Viber which could effectively reach over 1 billion people.
Journalists and media professionals are the first source of information to majority of population around the globe therefore UNESCO has published two policy briefs that assess COVID-19 ‘disinfodemic’ of falsehoods, fabrications and misinfo. The policy brief assists journalists working on frontlines of the “disinfodemic” around the world, to ensure accurate and verifiable public health info.
Local civil societies and NGOs who are working within the societies and are well aware of the local demographics and psychographics are working closely with UN Department of Global Communications (DGC) and with Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
This collaboration provides key sources of information for NGOs on opportunities to access, participate in and contribute to UN high-level. The weekly newsletter reaches around 1,900 organizations globally. Moreover along with WHO, DGC has launched a global civil society survey about COVID-19 to learn what misinformation, stigma and myths are circulating around the world and threatening the global response.
WHO is taking all possible measures to provide factual credible information. They believe that provision of authoritative information is a right for every citizen and to achieve this aim, all channels of information are being used.