Trusted News Initiative announces plans to tackle harmful Coronavirus disinformation

Member News published by BBC Research & Development

An industry collaboration of major news and tech organisations will work together to rapidly identify and stop the spread of harmful Coronavirus disinformation.

The Trusted News Initiative (TNI) was set up last year to protect audiences and users from disinformation, particularly around moments of jeopardy, such as elections. The TNI complements existing programmes partners have in place.

Now the partnership will extend its efforts to identifying false and potentially harmful Coronavirus information by putting in place a shared alert system.

Launching today, partners will be able to alert each other to disinformation about Coronavirus so that content can be reviewed promptly by platforms, whilst publishers ensure they don’t unwittingly republish disinformation.

Alerts will also flag up content that undermines trust in partner news providers by identifying imposter content which claims to come from trusted brand identities or sources.

The partners within the TNI are: BBC, Facebook, Google/YouTube, Twitter, Microsoft, AFP, Reuters, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Hindu, CBC/Radio-Canada, First Draft, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC, says: “The BBC and all our partners feel an urgent sense of responsibility to give everybody the very best, most accurate information, we can during this time of crisis. It's vital that we all have access to the facts so we know how to protect ourselves, our friends and families.

"These are challenging times for each and every one of us. We'll do everything we can, working together, to stop disinformation about Coronavirus in its tracks."

Last summer the BBC convened a Trusted News Summit, bringing together senior figures from major global technology firms and publishing.

The summit agreed to work collectively, where appropriate, to agree collaborative actions on various initiatives. Initiatives include:

  • Early Warning System: creating a system so organisations can alert each other rapidly when they discover disinformation which threatens human life or disrupts democracy during elections. The emphasis will be on moving quickly and collectively to undermine disinformation before it can take hold
  • Media Education: a joint online media education campaign to support and promote media education messages
  • Voter Information: co-operation on civic information around elections, so there is a common way to explain how and where to vote
  • Shared learning: particularly around high-profile elections

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