UN launches ‘Verified’ initiative to fight COVID-19 misinformation
The United Nations launches the campaign called ‘Verified’ against the misinformation and myths about the novel coronavirus. The specially created groups will track and refute fake news and rumors about the COVID-19 pandemic spread on social media, newspapers and TV. According to the UN, 67 percent of the world population is concerned about the spread of fake news, while others have difficulties in analyzing a huge amount of information in search of an unbiased source.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications Melissa Fleming said that the fight against the false information is urgent, since economic and social tensions in society worsen as the epidemic deepens.
“COVID-19 is not just this century’s largest public health emergency, it is also a communication crisis – not because there is a scarcity of information, on the contrary there is a glut of information. But fiction is often circulating at a faster rate than fact, endangering the public health response and ultimately people’s lives. Purveyors of misinformation are creating storylines and slick content that are filling information voids where the science has no answers. They offer promises of cures that have no evidence of benefit or may even be harmful,” Fleming said.
In the social media era, Kazakh citizens too suffered from the false rumors. The unverified information spread through popular messengers caused even greater concern among Kazakh residents.
However, experts say that the spread of misinformation about coronavirus has recently slowed down in Kazakhstan. At first, due to the fact that the nature of the deadly virus was unknown, various assumptions about its origin hit the Internet. Now, there are enough reliable and proven sources on this topic.
“There is the IFCN organization that includes the International Fact-Checking Network and the Eurasian Fact-Checking and Media Literacy Network. They fight against the misinformation and fake news. The latest fact-checking service was founded in Kazakhstan. It includes nearly 30 offices in the Eurasian continent. They formed a fact-checking alliance related to coronavirus and analyzed materials in Kazakhstan, as well as the whole world. But if comparing, we have much more information spread in the country than in other Central Asian states,” said Duman Smakov, ‘Factcheck.kz’ website's Editor-in-Chief.
Smakov said that it is still possible to distinguish false information from the true one. It just requires reading the news in the official sources and using critical thinking.