UN launches global principles to combat online hate, urges action

At a press conference Monday, June 24, 2024, Guterres laid out principles to combat online hate and demanded that big tech companies use their power to reduce harm to people and societies around the world. — AP Photo/Omar Havana

NEW YORK: Technology companies must take responsibility and mitigate harm to society, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday as he launched a set of global principles to combat online hate.

The principles form a framework for coordinated international action to make information spaces safer and more humane, "one of the most urgent tasks of our time," the UN said in a statement.

Misinformation, disinformation, hate speech and other risks to the information ecosystem were fuelling conflict, threatening democracy and human rights and undermining public health and climate action, the UN said.

"Their proliferation is now being supercharged by the rapid rise of readily available Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, increasing the threat to groups often targeted in information spaces, including children."

The principles would "empower people to demand their rights," Guterres said.

"At a time when billions of people are exposed to false narratives, distortions and lies, these principles lay out a clear path forward, firmly rooted in human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and opinion."

The principles call on governments, tech companies, advertisers and industry to take responsibility for the spread and monetization of content that results in harm.

"Government, tech companies, AI developers and advertisers should take special measures to protect and empower children," the UN said.

Those involved in AI development are urged to ensure that applications are designed, deployed and used safely, securely, responsibly and ethically, and uphold human rights.

A free and independent media and strong protections for journalists, researchers and civil society are also called for, according to the principles. – dpa

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