New United Nations Strategy Aims at Countering Viral Hatred, COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories, Secretary-General Says, Urging World to Unite against Virus

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message on COVID-19 and misinformation, in New York today:

As the world fights the deadly COVID-19 pandemic — the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War — we are also seeing another epidemic, a dangerous epidemic of misinformation. Around the world, people are scared. They want to know what to do and where to turn for advice.

This is a time for science and solidarity. Yet, the global “misinfo-demic” is spreading. Harmful health advice and snake-oil solutions are proliferating. Falsehoods are filling the airwaves. Wild conspiracy theories are infecting the Internet. Hatred is going viral, stigmatizing and vilifying people and groups.

The world must unite against this disease, too. The vaccine is trust. First, trust in science. I salute the journalists and others fact checking the mountain of misleading stories and social media posts. Social media companies must do more to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19.

Second, trust in institutions — grounded in responsive, responsible, evidence-based governance and leadership. And trust in each other. Mutual respect and upholding human rights must be our compass in navigating this crisis.

Together, let’s reject the lies and nonsense out there. Today, I am announcing a new United Nations communications response initiative to flood the Internet with facts and science while countering the growing scourge of misinformation, a poison that is putting even more lives at risk.

With common cause for common sense and facts, we can defeat COVID-19 — and build a healthier, more equitable, just and resilient world. Thank you.

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