UN Chief Calls for Global Code of Conduct to Combat Hate and Lies on Digital Platforms
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that global action is required to combat the proliferation of misinformation and hate on digital platforms. He has called for governments, tech firms and advertisers to develop a code of conduct promoting truth and safeguarding human rights. Guterres intends to establish a scientific advisory board to produce UN initiatives in this area. The UN Code of Conduct for Information Integrity on Digital Platforms is set to be distributed by next year’s UN Summit of the Future.
Calls for Consensus in Combating Misinformation and Cyber Hate
In response to the rapid spread of online misinformation and hate, numerous organisations are calling for increased efforts in combating these issues. However, there is a growing concern that voluntary codes of conduct and self-regulation employed by many corporations have not been sufficient to effectively counteract this. The proliferation of hateful and misleading information has an impact that can be felt around the world, and concerns about these practices have sparked global interest in establishing a more concrete regulatory framework.
Code of Conduct Takes on Disinformation and Hate Speech
Secretary-General Guterres indicated that the code of conduct for the UN will propose specific actions to combat falsehoods and hate speech. For companies that oversee the digital platforms, the code will call for transparency, an explanation of algorithm use and advertising tracking, and stipulations for identifying and addressing disinformation and hate can greatly enhance the effectiveness of any regulatory efforts. He underlined the importance of establishing international standards to combat these issues, noting that private sector business models often prioritise user engagement over fundamental human rights, privacy and truth.
Governments Under Pressure to Cooperate in Battling Online Misinformation
The UN release comes amid growing demand for governments to take a more active role in regulating misinformation and hate online. Last year, Germany passed a bill dubbed “The Network Enforcement Act” which demands that social media companies remove hateful, violent or abusive content within 24 hours of a complaint, or risk facing fines as large as €50 million. Hungary, Pakistan and Turkey are among other countries that have imposed severe restrictions on social media to control the spread of online hate.
Current Measures Viewed as Insufficient
Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism suggested that the UN’s code might not be enough to address these problems. Although the proposal is a positive step, voluntary codes of conduct previously formed by companies have been insufficient in reining in digital misinformation. Instead, more comprehensive measures such as regulation will be necessary to address the issue, she stressed. Governments and tech companies must adopt a more responsible approach to protect their users from disinformation and hate speech online.
World Reacts to the Push for Regulation of AI
Guterres has also sought to initiate efforts to regulate artificial intelligence, reflecting growing concerns that the technology is advancing at an alarming pace that is difficult to control. To achieve this, the Secretary-General proposes creating a UN agency on AI, modelled on the International Atomic Energy Agency. This agency would oversee the technological development and maintain regulatory control. Several nations, including the European Union and the United Kingdom, have launched initiatives focused on AI regulation, but it is generally acknowledged that this is a global issue. Recognising the critical role played by this technology, the UN is aiming to become a platform for dialogue regarding the creation of responsible AI technology.
The digital era created a vast, complex network of information sharing and communication. However, this system comes with significant risks, notably the proliferation of misinformation and hate speech. UN Secretary-General Guterres highlighted the importance of addressing these concerns through a coordinated global effort, including developing a code of conduct for governments, tech companies and advertisers to promote truth and protect human rights. Regulating digital practices requires constant attention from all committed to information integrity on digital platforms. The implementation of a comprehensive regulatory framework offers hope for the future and will ensure that the technology used to communicate with individuals across the globe benefits all humankind.