United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged countries to address the global harm of hate and lies online.
“The proliferation of hate and lies in the digital space is causing grave global harm – now,” Guterres asserted Monday.
“It is fueling conflict, death, and destruction – now. It is threatening democracy and human rights – now. It is undermining public health and climate action – now,” the UN Chief declared.
He spoke at a press briefing, launching a key report designed to shore up information integrity on digital platforms.
In the introduction, he wrote that he hoped it would provide a gold standard for guiding action to strengthen information integrity..
Guterres told the press briefing that digital platforms were embraced as exciting new ways to connect when social media emerged a generation ago.
He noted that the digital platforms had supported communities in times of crisis, elevated marginalized voices, and helped to mobilize global movements for racial justice and gender equality.
In addition, the UN Chief observed that social media platforms have helped the United Nations engage people worldwide in our pursuit of peace, dignity, and human rights on a healthy planet.
But he lamented that today, this same technology is often a source of fear, not hope.
“Digital platforms are being misused to subvert science and spread disinformation and hate to billions of people,” Guterres told reporters.
“Some of our own UN peacekeeping missions and humanitarian aid operations have been targeted, making their work even more dangerous,” he stated.
“New technology is moving at warp speed And so are the threats that come with it. Alarm bells over the latest form of artificial intelligence – generative AI – are deafening. And they are loudest from the developers who designed it,” Guterres observed.
“These scientists and experts have called on the world to act, declaring AI an existential threat to humanity on a par with the risk of nuclear war,” he said.
In this regard, the UN Chief said the world must take the warnings seriously.