UN chief wants to step up fight against disinformation

The UN Secretary-General believes that the whole world is too focused on artificial intelligence and its future risks, and does not pay enough attention to the very current dangers created by disinformation. Antonio Guterres even called a press conference on Monday, June 12, which is not a summons lightly, to be sure to get his message across.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (illustration image). REUTERS - THOMAS MUKOYA

Text by: Carrie Nooten Follow


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From our correspondent in New York,

The UN Secretary-General may repeat it, but unfortunately, few changes have been made in this area. However, Antonio Guterres knows it, he sees it in the reports given to him every day: social networks and the disinformation they convey digitally have very tangible and quite catastrophic effects.

In the Secretary-General's viewfinder: lies and messages of hatred, as well as posts that delegitimize scientifically established facts and can create chaos.

This is reminiscent of anti-vaccine campaigns at the height of the pandemic, Guterres said. And then, for him, this disinformation is also responsible for conflict, death and destruction. He did not quote it, but he surely has propaganda around the war in Ukraine in mind. Finally, more generally, it threatens democracy and human rights. All because the world was not ready to deal with the effects of social media.

>> Read also: Information-disinformation: identifying images generated by AI, mission impossible?

A code of conduct

Guterres therefore proposed a code of conduct for the integrity of information on digital platforms. This UN code could serve as a reference in this area. The Secretary-General will hold consultations by next year with governments, platforms, scientists or members of civil society to design it.

He has already listed misinformation that undermines the Sustainable Development Goals, these 17 goals that are a bit of a compass for the progress of humanity, in terms of gender equality, access to education.

The goal is to go further, and that the technology "developed by Silicon Valley" no longer hinders our progress. Moreover, Antonio Guterres does not forget artificial intelligence either: he is in favor of an agency specialized on the subject, a bit like the International Atomic Energy Agency - but only countries can decide to create such an entity.

>> Also listen: The jargon of disinformation

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • UN
  • Media
  • Antonio Guterres
  • Internet