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United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and UNESCO develop an analysis of COVID-19 misinformation in the Dominican Republic

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United Nations Educational Organization (UNESCO) and Citibeats, an ethical artificial intelligence platform that focuses on the analysis of social data, announce a collaboration to curb misinformation about COVID- 19 in the Dominican Republic.

The initiative was launched to make an analysis of public misconceptions about COVID-19 and perceptions on related social issues, which will be identified via artificial intelligence machine learning that’s based on text-based publications. It will also identify and evaluate the reliability of the information disseminated in the media.

Disinformation poses a threat to national responses regarding COVID-19 and can undermine public confidence in governments. According to the United Nations (UN) framework for the response to COVID-19, it is key to “guarantee access to accurate and timely information at all stages of the crisis and allow affected populations to meaningfully participate in the decisions made about COVID-19 ”. To this end, baseline data are needed on the information ecosystem and how it relates to public action and perception about disinformation.

In the face of this urgency, these organizations have decided to promote capacity development initiatives that increase vulnerable populations’ ability to seek and identify reliable sources of information in the Dominican Republic. The first step will be this analysis, which will offer an evidence-based perspective on the landscape of disinformation in the Dominican Republic that will then be used to define actions for the dissemination of clear and verified information to help people make better decisions.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, we are facing complex situations that have caused uncertainty, resulting in contradictory messages regarding statistics, restriction measures to prevent the spread of the disease, treatments, and government actions to counteract the socioeconomic crisis. In this landscape, digital media and social networks – that are increasingly more diverse and have gaps at the regulation level – contribute to misinformation, which particularly affects people with limited digital knowledge and that may be relying on false, unverified information. This highlights the urgency of taking decisive action on disinformation in order to make an effective and sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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