United Nations, 04 May 2020 – We interviewed Andy Pattison, from the World Health Organization, the UN agency for health, to discuss the question of social media platforms and how they have to step-up to their monitoring and be responsible corporate citizens in the fight to keep misinformation, disinformation, and fake news from spreading like wildfire.

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While social media advertising and citizens sharing information does not replace the work of professional journalists – work that is objective, accurate and has an ethical responsibility to readers and audiences – the unchecked power of social media platforms and social advertising is a new reality in the current information landscape that we are living in, since Facebook sprung from a college dorm room as an undergraduate experiment on rating people based on their looks, in 2003.

If left unchecked social media platforms have serious consequences for public health, as they have for democracy, elections, and public discourse. Our lives literally depend on social media giants becoming responsible corporate citizens. The World Health Organization had already worked with Facebook, a year or so ago, fighting the spread of inaccurate information during the Ebola crisis.

But this time around 45 plus social media platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, Salesforce, Reddit, and Amazon met with Andy Pattison to discuss and implement Public Service Announcement campaigns in an extremely rapid and coordinated fashion.

It is a game of whack-a-mole it seems. As soon as some misleading post spreads, at times even shared by well-meaning people that forget to double check the source of the information, the WHO alerts the social media platforms, sees that it be removed, and creates content to promote information that is accurate, fact-checked, and science-based.

Take a listen:

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