The United Nations is on a mission to combat the widespread of fake news, launching the ‘Pause’ campaign, which coincides perfectly with Social Media Day 2020 (June 30). The Pause campaign consists of videos and graphics that emphasise the importance of only sharing trusted and accurate science-based social media content.
In a statement by Melissa Fleming, overseer of the UN’s global communications effort, she says, “One of the ways it [misinformation] is spreading is the way people are sharing.”
“The idea of Pause is: take care before you share. We hope that ‘take care before you share’ starts to be a social norm that people have in the back of their heads and that will enable a personal behaviour change.”
Further, Fleming discloses that the aim of the campaign is to really get people thinking about misinformation. “[These messages are] often packaged as being “more slick, more shareable […]; black and white statements that people who communicate responsibly, and rely on science, would not do because we have to communicate nuance”, Ms Fleming said.
The U.N. is also reported to have recruited “digital first responders,” whose job is to counter fake news with facts. More than 10,000 responders have been said to have signed up for the daily and weekly feeds – ranging from fact-checkers in Colombia to young journalists in the U.K – and according to the UN’s Department for Global Communications, this number is growing at a rate of about 10% per week.
Fleming also points out that the U.N. needs the active cooperation of platforms like Facebook and Twitter. “We also need the platforms to work with us”, she said, stating that the organisation is in talks with the likes of these technology companies on how to curb the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 on social media.