UN chief calls for new era of social media integrity in bid to stem misinformation (3)

16 June, 2023

I have not yet studied the UN report [ https://www.un.org/sites/un2.un.org/files/our-common-agenda-policy-brief... ]. However, I hope that the report addresses in detail the complex interplay between health information (or misinformation), accessibility to universal health information, human rights, and the government as an essential stakeholder in health information (or disinformation) provision.

The greatest enemy of credible health information access is human rights and the abuse of the concept of human rights. I might be biased but we should recognise the misuse of media houses (both electronic and print) to propagate practices, principles and ideologies that run contrary to the interests of the larger sector of the public. In this sense, it may be difficult to ensure that information will serve the public interest while at the same time, recognising the universal principles of human rights.

Human rights of the minority is not the same thing as the human rights of the majority. This is so particularly if the interests of the majority and minority clash. A good balance should be for the majority interests to protect (to the extent possible) minority interests, but not the other way round.

Regarding the question of mis- and disinformation, who defines a piece of information as wrong or right? This may not be immediately easy to answer unless a given piece of information glaringly promotes hatred.

I do agree that tech companies often fail information users. I often see adverts that target sectors of the public, especially the youth who are gullible. Some social media information promotes psychological trauma. As a result, I have personally tried to contain and or counter the posting of harmful information on the social media platforms, which I subscribe to.

Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and HIV/AIDS, a lot of information (or mis- and disinformation) has circulated via social media. Who decides that information on the pandemic and or epidemics is credible?

I wonder how, and if governments will ever improve the integrity and security of the internet.

*Emilio Ovuga, MBChB, M.Med Psych, PhD*

*CEO, Bomvitae Agro Industries Limited (BAIL)*

*Executive President, The Society for the Advancement of Africa (SASA)*

*Member, Governance Council, Nile University*

*Prof, International Institute of Medicine & Science, California, USA*

*Tel: (Mob): +256(0)770880330; +256(0)0700899107*

*Email: emilio.ovuga@gmail.com <emilio.ovuga@gmail.com>*

HIFA profile: Emilio Ovuga is CEO, Bomvitae Agro Industries Limited (BAIL); Executive President, The Society for the Advancement of Africa (SASA) and is based in Uganda. emilio.ovuga AT gmail.com