WHO chief: COVID-19 lies spread online quicker than truth
Updated 10:25, 29-Jun-2020
By Liu Yang
Screenshot from the Collision From Home Web Summit website

Screenshot from the Collision From Home Web Summit website

During the Collision From Home Web Summit — the world's largest tech conference held Tuesday through Thursday — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that COVID-19 misinformation online spreads significantly quicker than truth and is 70 percent more likely to be shared on social media platforms. 

"To counter this, we have set up systems with digital firms to remain one step ahead. For example, the WHO Health Alert chatbot was launched in March, providing up to 2 billion people with accurate and lifesaving information in over 40 languages via WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Viber and others," Dr. Tedros said.

With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb worldwide and with more than 497,000 coronavirus-related deaths, Dr. Tedros asked tech founders and CEOs to ensure that the technology they've developed can improve public health outcomes for the majority of people on a global scale.

He also said that new technology should seek to reduce, rather than widen, inequality. 

"We must make sure that innovation and technology help reduce the inequalities in our world instead of becoming another reason people are left behind. We must be guided by evidence, not seduced by every new gadget," Dr. Tedros said Tuesday during the video conference.

Collision is known by CBC News as the "TIFF for tech," which Inc. Magazine calls the "fastest-growing tech conference in North America." 

Collision is set to move online for 2020 with Collision from Home. Collision will return to Toronto as a physical event for a 2nd year from June 21 to 24, 2021 at the Enercare Centre.

This year, the event covered wide range of topics including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, climate change, data science, finance, marketing, among others, totaling 34 topics. 

Booking.com Chair Gillian Tans warned that the global tourism industry will take years to return to full health after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, Tans is positive about the local travel market, saying that domestic travel now accounts for an unprecedented share of Booking.com's business, with short trips particularly in China, South Korea and Germany.

With regard to AI development in the business innovation amid the pandemic, Tian Wu, corporate vice president of Baidu, noted "the AI production platform has standardized, automated and modularized AI technologies, and opened up the whole process for AI technologies transforming into industrial applications and eventually triggering the business innovations."