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Antidote to pandemic of misinformation amid Covid-19 is fact-based news: UN Chief

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is today seeing a dangerous outbreak of misinformation about harmful health advice, hate speech and wild conspiracy theories, and antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

This year on World Press Freedom Day (May 3), the world, including the media, faces an entirely new challenge: COVID-19, which is affecting everyone, everywhere. Along with the pandemic, we are seeing a dangerous outbreak of misinformation, from harmful health advice and hate speech to wild conspiracy theories, Guterres said.

He made the remarks during an online high-level dialogue on Press Freedom and Tackling Disinformation in the COVID-19 context. He said blatant lies are spreading online at a terrifying rate and a recent analysis found that more than 40 per cent of posts about COVID-19 on one major social media platform were posted by bots automated programmes disguised as people.

The antidote to this pandemic of misinformation is fact-based news and analysis. It depends on media freedom and independent reporting, he said, underscoring that press freedom is rooted in a fundamental tenet of journalism without fear or favour.

Guterres underlined that when journalists are attacked, societies as a whole pay a price. No democracy can function without press freedom, which is the cornerstone of trust between people and their institutions, he said.

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