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Hastily Introduced Fake News Laws Could Damage Efforts to Counter Disinformation, UNESCO Warns


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A man wearing a medical mask and reading his phone.

Legislation to curb disinformation on the coronavirus could damage legitimate journalism, according to new studies.

Credit: Getty Images

Reports commissioned by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and authored by experts at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. warn that legislation to curb disinformation on the coronavirus could damage legitimate journalism's efforts to combat this "disinfodemic."

The policy briefs said "fake news laws" could undermine freedom of expression and critical journalism designed to ensure public access to accurate information, and government accountability for handling the pandemic.

The reports stressed the need for transparency, including the provision of open data sources on infection, mortality, and recovery rates, and issues like equipment shortages.

Said Sheffield's Julie Posetti and Kalina Bontcheva, "Tech and social media giants have a key role to play in supporting the spread of accurate information by providing no-strings-attached funding for independent news media and fact-checking organizations both during and after the pandemic."

From The University of Sheffield (U.K.)
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