‘Epidemic of misinformation’ more dangerous than coronavirus: UN chief

UN Secretary-General has stated that misinformation in this testing time is a major stumbling block in the fight against coronavirus. His statement came at a time when news agencies are spreading false information about the outbreak and doing harm instead of any good. Besides mainstream media, social media is more dangerous because any information on these platforms is not regularised.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Tuesday about a “dangerous epidemic of misinformation” surrounding the global coronavirus outbreak.

“This is a time for science and solidarity,” Guterres said in a statement and video message.

“As the world fights the deadly COVID-19 pandemic -– the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War –- we are also seeing another epidemic, a dangerous epidemic of misinformation,” he said.

Guterres did not cite any specific countries or media outlets but he said that “harmful health advice and snake-oil solutions are proliferating.

“Falsehoods are filling the airwaves,” he said. “Wild conspiracy theories are infecting the Internet.

“Hatred is going viral, stigmatizing and vilifying people and groups,” Guterres said.

“The world must unite against this disease, too,” he said.

“The vaccine is trust,” Guterres said, calling on people to “trust in science.”

The UN secretary-general praised journalists and fact-checkers and called on social media companies to do “more to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19.”

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“Together, let’s reject the lies and nonsense out there,” he said, and “build a healthier, more equitable, just and resilient world.”

Nowadays, as the epidemic has surrounded all the news-network worldwide, it is a flourishing trend to break any sensational news that could get the attention of people; and the rating of that specific news agency might increase.

Due to this dangerous trend, people are receiving loads of information every day about the coronavirus outbreak. Any false or fabricated information may prove fatal for some viewers.

Apart from mainstream media– print & electronic media outlets–social media has increasingly become the most viewable sector. In this quarantine, people have plenty of time to use Facebook, Twitter etc. which may also disseminate false and fabricated information.

Therefore, UN secretary General concerns about misinformation are legitimate and a system needs to be put in place where such happenings could be curbed.

AFP with additional input from GVS News Desk.

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