More than 85% of people are worried about the impact of online disinformation and 87% believe it has already harmed their country’s politics, according to a global survey, as the United Nations announced a plan to tackle the phenomenon.
Audrey Azoulay, director general of the UN’s culture body, Unesco, told reporters on Monday that false information and hate speech online – accelerated and amplified by social media platforms – posed “major risks to social cohesion, peace and stability”.
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Online disinformation : UNESCO unveils action plan to regulate social media platforms [news release]
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO sounded the alarm on Monday about the intensification of disinformation and hate speech online, which constitutes “a major threat to stability and social cohesion”. To put an end to this scourge she unveiled UNESCO’s action plan, the result of extensive worldwide consultations and is backed by a global opinion survey underlining the urgent need for action.
Digital technology has enabled immense progress on freedom of speech. But social media platforms have also accelerated and amplified the spread of false information and hate speech, posing major risks to societal cohesion, peace and stability. To protect access to information, we must regulate these platforms without delay, while at the same time protecting freedom of expression and human rights,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey AzoulayUNESCO Director-General
UNESCO’s action plan is the result of a consultation process on a scale unprecedented within the United Nations system, with over 10,000 contributions from 134 countries collected over the last eighteen months. Over forty pages, it outlines the principles which must be respected as well as the concrete measures which must be implemented by all stakeholders: governments, regulatory authorities, civil society and the platforms themselves.
Representatives from independent regulators have already welcomed UNESCO’s initiative, and several of them – notably in Africa and Latin America – have indicated that they are ready to begin implementing these measures. To this end, UNESCO will organize the first World Conference of Regulators in mid-2024.
The Organization will also support its Member States in transposing this action plan into their own laws and regulations. To this end, UNESCO is mobilising dedicated funding, including 1 million Euros already pledged by the European Commission.
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