UN urges actions against mis- and disinformation, hate speech

UNITED NATIONS    -    The world must respond to the harm caused by the spread of online hate and lies while robustly upholding human rights, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Monday at the launch of the UN Global Principles for Information Integrity. Speaking one year after the unveiling of his report into information integrity on digital platforms, the UN chief put forward a framework for coordinated international action to make information spaces safer and more humane, “one of the most urgent tasks of our time”. “The spread of hatred and lies online is causing grave harm to our world,” he said, addressing the media at UN Headquarters, in New York. The UN’s own humanitarian and peacekeeping operations are at risk, as its personnel deal with a “tsunami of falsehoods” and “absurd conspiracy theories”, the UN chief added. False narratives and lies breed cynicism and undermine social cohesion and sustainable development, he said. He asserted that everyone should freely express themselves without fear of attack and be able to access a wide range of views and information. “No one should be at the mercy of an algorithm they don’t control, which was not designed to safeguard their interests, and which tracks their behaviour to collect personal data and keep them hooked,” he said. The Global Principles aim to empower people to demand their rights, help protect children, ensure honest and trustworthy information for young people, and enable public interest- based media to convey reliable and accurate information, Guterres added The Principles evolved through wide-ranging consultations with UN member states, the private sector, youth leaders, media, academia and civil society. They focus on building trust and resilience, ensuring an independent and pluralistic media, creating healthy incentives based on factual information, enhancing transparency and research, and empowering the public.

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