Guterres Urges Fight Against Tyranny Of Algorithm-Driven Digital Media Promoting Disinformation

(MENAFN- IANS) United Nations, June 25 (IANS) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged a global fight against the tyranny of algorithm-driven online media supercharged by artificial intelligence (AI) that promotes disinformation and puts "lives at stake".

"You are the majority, and this is a fight we can win -- together," he said on Monday. "Demand accountability; demand choice; demand control."

Releasing the UN's Global Principles for Information Integrity, he said, "No one should be at the mercy of an algorithm they don't control, which was not designed to safeguard their interests, and which tracks their behaviour to collect personal data and keep them hooked."

"Opaque algorithms push people into information bubbles and reinforce prejudices including racism, misogyny, and discrimination of all kinds," he said.

He warned that threats to information integrity are not new, "they are proliferating and expanding with unprecedented speed on digital platforms, supercharged by AI technologies" becoming vehicles for spreading hate.

"When information integrity is targeted, so is democracy -- which depends on a shared, fact-based perception of reality," he said.

He appealed to the media to "raise and enforce editorial standards" against the onslaught of disinformation and manipulation.

"Do your part to safeguard our future by providing quality journalism based on facts and reality," he said.

Exorciating the big tech companies for "the damage your products are inflicting on people and communities", he told them to acknowledge the harm they have done and take responsibility for it.

"You have the power to change business models that profit from disinformation and hate" and "to mitigate harm to people and societies around the world," he said.

Turning to the role of governments, he said, "Commit to creating and maintaining a free, viable, independent, and plural media landscape."

He urged governments to "guarantee strong protection for journalists" and ensure "regulations to uphold human rights".

He also came out against "drastic measures, including blanket internet shutdowns".

Guterres said that he had himself been the victim of campaigns of disinformation, citing the example of the campaign falsely claiming that he had never condemned Hamas, which carried out brutal attacks on Israel last year.

A fact check showed that he had, in fact, condemned Hamas 102 times.

The UN's Global Principles for Information Integrity, as outlined by him, are based on five rubrics:

– Societal trust and resilience;

– Independent, free, and pluralistic media;

– Healthy incentives;

– Transparency and research, and

– Public empowerment.

The principles were arrived at after broad consultations with member nations, youth leaders, academia, civil society, and the private sector including tech companies and the media, he said.

They are "based on an overriding vision of a more humane (information) ecosystem", he said.

While Guterres unequivocally -- and the principles -- come out against internet shutdown and enshrine the right of everyone to "express themselves freely without fear of attack" and "to access a range of views and information sources", they do not adequately address what can be done to limit harm in situations of civil unrest, or war.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at ... and followed at @arulouis)



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