ICCO Calls for Urgent Action on Misinformation at UN

On 24th April, at the UNDP’s HQ in Geneva, ICCO’s Europe President Massimo Moriconi called for a coalition of media stakeholders and international organisations to push forward concrete actions to tackle the threat of mis and disinformation. At ICCO’s Europe Forum, a gathering of leading PR experts and national representatives from across Europe and beyond, misinformation was a lead topic alongside ICCO’s other core workstreams including climate communications, ethics, quality standards, next generation, and the next stage of ICCO’s partnership with the United Nations.

Massimo shared preliminary results of a recent ICCO misinformation survey – soon to be published in full and conducted in collaboration with EACD, GWPR, The Trust Project and EUPRERA – revealing that forming cross-industry alliances with institutions, associations, journalists, fact-checking organisations, and technology platforms will be the most effective way to identify shared solutions. Other solutions identified included training and certification specific to misinformation, updating professional codes of ethics, and finally supporting local government campaigns to amplify media literacy for the wider public. However, only 45% of respondents were aware of any such media literacy campaigns in their market, highlighting a part of the challenge in many regions.

Regarding support for fact checking networks, 71.3% confirmed awareness of fact-checking in their market. The results will form the basis of a new set of ICCO misinformation initiatives led by Massimo Moriconi. At the Geneva meeting, journalist Enzo Panizio from EDMO (European Digital Media Observatory) presented an overview of the fact checking landscape in Europe in the context of ‘the great election year’. The Forum also heard the latest behavioural science research and recommendations on this topic from, Shayoni Lynn, CEO and Founder of Lynn, and founder of The Misinformation Cell – the UK’s first anti mis/disinformation unit for PR and Comms.

The Europe Forum was opened by Agi Veres, UNDP Geneva Director, who shared an open and frank perspective on UNDP’s vast scope of work and global priorities. Its communication challenges – both in delivering work and managing reputation – make it clear that there is a central role that PR communications can play in achieving UNDP’s goals for the betterment of humanity. Following the success of the ICCO Climate Communications Taskforce and the Weather Kids Campaign, ICCO has committed to form more coalitions to tackle other UN campaigns and communication challenges.

The group examined the #WeatherKids campaign with Sarah Bel, Communications Specialist, UNDP; Rob Morbin, Executive Director, ICCO; Grzegorz Szczepanski, President, ICCO and Ciro Dias de Reis, CEO and Founder, Imagem Corporativa from Brazil – identifying different regional perspectives on communicating climate change and objectives for future campaigns.

The Forum concluded with a discussion on EU’s latest AI Act as well as other AI news and trends impacting PR businesses, led by ICCO’s Ethics Chair Christina Forsgård, Founder, Netprofile. 75.3% of respondents to the misinformation survey believe AI has a role to play in mitigating and identifying misinformation, with 82% not aware of any meaningful AI tools available – highlighting another great challenge and opportunity.

Massimo Moriconi, Europe President, ICCO said:

“Misinformation is frequently ranked amid top modern threats to humanity, and it is within our expertise and powers to combat this challenge. It was fantastic to gather so many great PR minds from across Europe to plan our next moves on this topic, as well as our other priorities. Following our partnership with the Council of Europe, and now UNDP, we are building momentum and giving our members the opportunity to have real collective impact.”

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