MANILA – The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has underscored Monday the need to promote a free, independent press to fight the so-called “infodemic” amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.
“It is the responsibility of media to check facts, to publish the information and in doing so they tackle the infodemic. I think it is fundamental if we don’t want to undermine the level of trust in societies that this independence be respected,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said at a virtual high-level dialogue on press freedom and disinformation during Covid-19.
Azoulay said the government plays a vital role in preventing the infodemic by creating a framework that allows for an independent and free press.
The World Health Organization earlier said it was confronting an infodemic or flood of information about a problem “makes it difficult to identify a solution” and could even spread misinformation, disinformation, and rumors during the pandemic.
There is so much inaccurate information about the virus, and as such, infodemics can hamper an effective public health response and create confusion and distrust among people.
Amid the global coronavirus crisis, there is a “dangerous outbreak of misinformation, from harmful health advice and hate speech to wild conspiracy theories,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Guterres said blatant lies spread online at a “terrifying rate,” citing a recent analysis, which found that more than 40 percent of posts about Covid-19 on one major social media platform was posted by bots or automated programs disguised as people.
“The antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis. It depends on media freedom and independent reporting. And it is rooted in a fundamental tenet: ‘journalism without fear or favor’,” he said. (ia/PNA)