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Collision from Home: WHO Director-General: Covid-19 Lies up to 70% More Likely to be Shared Online Than Truth

- World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks of fight against online misinformation and of WHO's partnerships with major tech companies

- With Covid-19 cases numbering 8.8 million worldwide and more than 465,000 people losing their lives to the disease, Dr Tedros tells tech founders and CEOs to reject technology that only benefits the rich and privileged

- Dr Tedros joined Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood, and NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal at the 32,000-attendee online event Collision from Home

TORONTO, June 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today warned that Covid-19 misinformation spreads significantly quicker than truth online – and is 70 percent more likely to be shared on some social platforms. Dr Tedros made the remarks at the 32,000-attendee Collision from Home, produced by the team behind Web Summit – the world's largest tech conference.

Dr Tedros spoke of WHO's partnerships with major tech companies to combat the spread of misinformation, something he said is "key" to fighting "the infodemic of misinformation and falsehoods".

"Misinformation travels further, faster and sometimes deeper than the truth. On some social media platforms, falsehoods are 70 percent more likely to be shared than accurate news. To counter this, we have set up systems with digital firms to remain one step ahead.

"For example the WHO Health Alert chatbot was launched in March, providing up to 2 billion people with accurate and lifesaving information in over 40 languages via WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Viber and others," said Dr Tedros, adding that these initiatives are most critical in "fragile states" with health services under increasing strain.

"Fifty percent of all Arabic users of the WhatsApp chatbot are from Yemen – a country whose health system has collapsed," said Dr Tedros.

With Covid-19 cases now numbering 8.8 million worldwide and more than 465,000 people losing their lives to the disease, Dr Tedros implored tech founders and CEOs to ensure the technology they develop improves public health outcomes for the majority of people worldwide.

"Ask yourself every day if the technology you're working on will work for the poorest and most vulnerable, or the rich and privileged. Will it make the world fairer, or widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots?" said Dr Tedros, who told Collision from Home attendees to reject innovation for innovation's sake, saying that new technology should seek to reduce rather than widen inequality.

"We must make sure that innovation and technology help reduce the inequalities in our world, instead of becoming another reason people are left behind. We must be guided by evidence, not seduced by every new gadget," said Dr Tedros.

Download clips from the interview  here and here.

About Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is an Ethiopian microbiologist and internationally recognised malaria researcher who has served since 2017 as director-general of the World Health Organization.

About Collision:

Collision is known by CBC as the "TIFF for tech", while Inc. Magazine calls it the "fastest-growing tech conference in North America". Collision is set to move online for 2020 with Collision from Home. Collision will return to Toronto as a physical event for the second year from June 21-24, 2021 at the Enercare Centre.

About Web Summit:

Forbes says Web Summit is "the best tech conference on the planet"; Bloomberg calls it "Davos for geeks"; Politico, "the Olympics of tech"; The Guardian, "Glastonbury for geeks"; and, in the words of Inc. Magazine, "Web Summit is the largest technology conference in the world".

Whatever Web Summit is, it wouldn't be possible without an incredible team of over 200 employees based in Dublin, Lisbon, Toronto and Hong Kong, including world-class engineers, data scientists, designers, producers, marketers, salespeople, and more. They've disrupted an old industry by building incredible software and designing mind-blowing events, revolutionising how people and ideas come together to change the world.

Useful links:

Collision images: https://www.flickr.com/photos/collisionconf/
Collision speaker lineup: https://collisionconf.com/speakers

Collision schedule: https://collisionconf.com/schedule

Cision

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SOURCE Web Summit