The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) report, conducted in the UK and US, found that simply stopping to question the origin, credibility, relevance and accuracy of any information before sharing it on phones, computers and social media platforms, has dramatically reduced the propensity of people to share false information.
The campaign was launched as part of the UN Verified initiative, working with social impact agency Purpose, which aims to give people around the world scientific insight during the COVID-19 response.
Working with UN agencies, influencers, civil society, businesses and social media platforms, Verified creates and distributes reliable and accurate information and encourages consumers to change their media consumption practices to reduce and stop the spread of disinformation online.
In the study, participants who saw Pause campaign content were significantly less likely to share fake headlines.
Protect each other
“The monumental task of combating disinformation belongs to all of us. It’s about how we can come together to foster social change, shift norms of behavior and harness people’s sense of solidarity to ensure their mutual security, ”said Melissa Fleming, Assistant Secretary-General for Communications global.
“The MIT study shows that pausing before sharing is not only possible but also the responsible thing to do, especially at a time when it has become difficult to separate truth from lies.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the first three months of 2020 alone, nearly 6,000 people have been hospitalized due to misinformation about COVID-19. The Pause campaign, which reached nearly a billion people in 2020, is stepping up efforts to empower more people to share information responsibly.
The new phase of the campaign calls on the world to take the #PledgetoPause, and “flood the internet with the pause symbol”.
Guided by research, the campaign assumes that by interrupting, even for a few seconds, the impulse to share something we see – an urge often fueled by emotions such as arousal, anger, and even altruism – we allow ourselves time to think more critically.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation can be deadly. Make a commitment to take a break and help stop the spread of disinformation, ”said Ms. Fleming.