90 Miles From Tyranny : Misinformation Isn’t the Only Danger

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Misinformation Isn’t the Only Danger

Who gets to determine what’s “misinformation” and what’s not?

As social media companies, under pressure, move in a direction of imposing stricter rules about permissible content on their platforms, this is the question users should be asking.

Earlier this month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the video giant would be removing videos that go against World Health Organization recommendations on COVID-19.

Referring to “removing information that is problematic” and “anything that is medically unsubstantiated,” Wojcicki specifically called out certain suggestions of vitamins or other nutritional supplements as a treatment.

“So people saying, like, take vitamin C; you know, take turmeric, like, those are—will cure you. Those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy,” Wojcicki told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” April 19.

“Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy,” she said.

Nor is YouTube the only social media organization deferring to the WHO. Facebook’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, announced the social media site would direct people “who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed” to a page with “myth-busters” by the U.N. agency.

But the World Health Organization has hardly been a stalwart fount of truth during the coronavirus crisis. Notably, it seemed all too willing to echo China’s talking points during the critical early days of the virus outbreak.

The WHO also has come under fire for its treatment of Taiwan. Taipei is not a member of the organization, due to pressure from China, which does not acknowledge Taiwan as an independent country.

Taiwan says a Dec. 31 email it sent to the WHO should have made clear there was a real threat of human-to-human transmission.

“To be prudent, in the email, we took pains to refer to atypical pneumonia, and specifically noted that patients [in China] had been isolated for treatment. Public health professionals could discern from this wording that there was a real possibility of human-to-human transmission of the disease,” said an April 11 release from the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, which notes that Taiwan had not at that time had any cases of COVID-19.

Yet, on Jan. 14, the WHO tweeted, “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China.”

The WHO wasn’t claiming it had independently verified China’s claims. But given China’s incentive to portray COVID-19 as being under control and manageable, the world health body certainly should have taken Beijing’s claims with a grain of...

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1 comment:

  1. So... don't use Facebook or Youtube... We all lived quite well before they started ruling peoples' lives...


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