Responding to the COVID crisis, Peace Talk Café goes online

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Currently, we are all going through a time of unprecedented changes and looming uncertainties. In this time, responding to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and youth pulse, Peace Talk Café – Presented by Digital Khichuri Challenge, organized an online discourse with the youth on addressing misinformation and hoax surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, on April 12 at 9.30 am-11:30 am.

This discourse is arranged every quarter to expand the space for dialogue between youth and speakers coming from diverse background, underlining the fact that, building peace is not only an effort of technical specialists but that each and every individual has a role to play. This is a part of UNDP’s on-going Digital Khichuri Challenge, which is a youth engagement platform that aims to create a peaceful and inclusive society. This edition, Peace Talk Cafe focused on the unparalleled impacts of COVID-19, affecting hundreds of thousands of people and disrupting peace in the country, and how the spread of misinformation and hoax was heightening this already escalating problem.

Addressing the rampant misinformation, Mohammad Abdul Quayyum, Head of Communications of UNDP said, “We are not just fighting an epidemic, we are also fighting an ‘infodemic’. This infodemic is spreading as fast as the epidemic. We have an abundance of information across all channels, be it TV or social media, which presents us with a challenge. Information can be an aid, but it can also pose a great danger if misused. Getting the right information to the right person at the right time is an aid. But misinformation can be dangerous and must be avoided at all costs.”

When asked how we can identify fake news, Mohammad Nazmul Islam, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, Dhaka Metropolitan Police, mentioned: “Identifying fake news is a rather technical process but in a nutshell, when you come across any suspicious news, cross-check at least 3 other sources, run a keyword search and, in case of images, run a reverse image search.” He further added, “there are many ways to identify fake news, but we don’t make the effort to verify. We need to be more responsible in this regard.”

Sakib Bin Rashid, Deputy Manager, BRAC believes that the overwhelming spread of misinformation regarding COVID-19 has to do with a lack of awareness generation among the masses. He mentioned “When we find people sharing misinformation, we tend to ridicule them, instead of correcting them. We have to bring about this attitude change. For those who are not receptive to change, it is our responsibility to make them understand, make them aware. Ridiculing them or not correcting them will contribute more to the problem”

Peace Talk Café was attended by Bangladeshi youth from all over the world who shared their remarks on what might be done to tackle the misinformation crisis within this COVID crisis.