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‘Deluge’ of misinformation online is ‘really dangerous’: Gayle Smith

One Campaign President & CEO, Gayle Smith, joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the spread of misinformation on social media.

Video Transcript

ANDY SERWER: Now I want to ask you about social media when it comes to the pandemic because there's a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to Facebook and Twitter and YouTube. And I'm curious what your take on that it is. And are there solutions there, or is it a necessary evil? What is your thinking?

GAYLE SMITH: Yeah, look I've-- you know, we've always, I think, faced the people who put falsehoods at the [INAUDIBLE] or sell products that aren't what they claim to be and so on. I think when it's on the internet, when you look at scale and speed, we're in a bit of a deluge right now. And I think it's really, really dangerous.

But I think as dangerous as that-- and this is, again, where leadership and how you manage a pandemic comes into play-- there is even now a debate about where science-- whether science is a legitimate thing or not, right? So it's not just let's debate the facts on whether children transmit the virus. Let's debate whether science really has anything to do with this.

And I think there's been a discounting of science, when again my experience in the Ebola epidemic-- I worked for a long time on HIV and AIDS. Science is our friend. And, you know, you look at solving a political crisis-- you know, look at Lebanon today, for example-- it would be great to have science and facts and data that could help guide through that. That's persuasion. That's a political well. That's human choice.

In a pandemic, facts are our ammunition. And so I think the first thing that really needs to happen and where we've got a deficit is we need to relegitimize science. That's kind of shocking to think that that's necessary. Because once you do that, then when falsehoods are put out there, debunking something with the science, which is what we used to do, becomes a much easier proposition.

So, I can't believe it's a necessary evil because I think it is wildly destructive. I think tragically the lifespan of this global pandemic is being extended by this kind of back-and-forth nonsense and disinformation. I'm not sure what the solution is to be perfectly frank.

Right now the solution kind of seems to be everybody passing the hot potato around and nobody stepping up and saying, all right, we've all got to come together and solve this. Because, again, I think the last thing anybody wants to do is let's say, let's make sure this pandemic lasts a year or two longer than it needs to.