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The United Nations makes global information integrity a priority

The symbol of the United Nations is displayed outside the Secretariat Building.
John Minchillo
FILE - The symbol of the United Nations is displayed outside the Secretariat Building at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York.

The rapid spread of misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech, especially through digital channels such as social media is not an issue just for the United States. The scope is global and the impact is being felt world-wide. In 2021, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for tackling what he called the “infodemic of misinformation.”

The United Nations describes misinformation as “the accidental spread of inaccurate information” while according to the world body “disinformation is not only inaccurate, but intends to deceive and is spread in order to do serious harm.” But one problem with tackling disinformation is that there is not a universally accepted definition to cover all aspects of it and the many aspects it touches from electoral processes, to climate change to public health.

The U.N. has for generations been the mechanism through which the world has come together to solve problems. In order to tackle global crises, effective communication is key.

Our first guest on Tuesday's "Sound of Ideas," is the global communications official for the U.N. Under Secretary-General Melissa Fleming is in town for a program with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

Next up on the show, the YWCA will launch its Racial Justice Challenge next week. The four-week challenge is open to individuals, organizations and businesses. The YWCA says the challenge is designed to create time and space for people to build more effective social justice habits, foster personal reflection and motivate participants to identify and act on ways to dismantle racism and discrimination.

The challenge will be focused around weekly topics including disability, housing, mental health and music.

Developed by YWCA Greater Cleveland in 2019, the challenge has previously been known as the Stand Against Racism Challenge and the 21-Day Racial Equity and Social Justice Challenge. YWCA Greater Cleveland President and CEO Helen Forbes Fields joins our conversation.

Last up in this hour, NPR host, Mary Louise Kelly, talks about her new memoir, “It. Goes. So. Fast. A Year of No Do-Overs.” The book is a candid look at her effort to juggle motherhood and a career.

-Melissa Fleming, United Nations Under Secretary-General for Global Communications
-Helen Forbes Fields, President & CEO, YWCA Greater Cleveland
-Mary Louise Kelly, Author, NPR Host

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."