Friday, August 14, 2020
Aug. 14, 2020

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U.N. launches effort to tackle coronavirus misinformation

‘Verified’ initiative uses volunteers to share accurate info

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations on Thursday launched an initiative to tackle coronavirus misinformation by spreading trusted, accurate content with a network of volunteers.

The initiative, dubbed “Verified,” encourages people around the world to become “information volunteers” to share verified content via social media.

These so-called digital first responders will receive a daily feed of content with simple, compelling messaging that counters false claims or fills an information gap.

It will be centered on science, solutions and solidarity, and will include “hopeful content that celebrates local acts of humanity, the contributions of refugees and migrants, and makes the case for global cooperation,” according to U.N. global communications chief Melissa Fleming.

She said the initiative aims to address “disturbing efforts to exploit the crisis to advance nativism or to target minority groups, which could worsen as the strain on societies grows and the economic and social fallout kicks in.”

The campaign will also promote recovery packages that combat the climate crisis and address poverty, inequality and hunger.

The U.N. will also partner with influencers, civil society, businesses and media to distribute the content and work with social media companies to remove hate and harmful claims about the pandemic.

“Misinformation spreads online, in messaging apps and person to person,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a press release. “To counter it, scientists and institutions like the United Nations need to reach people with accurate information they can trust.”

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