PARIS - To those who like to say that poetry is dead, Elizabeth Acevedo has a ready answer: poetry is by no means dead, it’s just constantly taking on new forms. And slam is one of these transmutations, where poets recite their work on stage, engaging directly with the audience.

“I see hundreds of young people at slam performances,” says Acevedo, a prize-winning writer and performer based in Washington, D.C. “But some people would like to dismiss this as just yelling. That makes me want to rebel.”

Acevedo was a member of the Beltway team that won the 2014 National Poetry Slam in the United States, by delivering impassioned, uncompromising verse. Since then she has been touring colleges, conducting workshops and giving lectures.

- Photo: 2020

Wanted ‘Information Volunteers’ to Halt Viral Spread of COVID-19 Misinformation

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) — Never before has there been a more pressing need for accurate, verified information as in the current situation marked by the Coronavirus spreading its tentacles around the world. Like the virus itself, Misinformation about COVID-19 spreads rapidly from person-to-person and heightens the risk to health disseminating fear and division.

Subsequently, to contain the disease and its impacts, people around the world require access to trusted, accurate information based on science and aiming at solutions and building solidarity within and between nations.

The UN wants people around the world to pause before sharing emotionally charged content on social media. The organization is asking people to make the same judgement they’ve been applying to social distancing, to social media, and take extra care before sharing. Termed Pause campaign, it consists of videos, graphics and colourful gifs that stress sharing only trusted and accurate science-based social media content.

The Pause campaign is part of the United Nations’ ‘Verified‘ initiative, which is urging people to sign up to become “information volunteers” to share trusted content to keep their families and communities safe and connected. Termed as “digital first responders”, the volunteers receive a daily feed of verified content optimized for social sharing with simple, compelling messaging that either directly counters Misinformation or fills an information void.

The initiative purports to combat in particular the growing scourge of COVID-19 Misinformation by increasing the volume and outreach of trusted, accurate information.

“We cannot cede our virtual spaces to those who traffic in lies, fear and hate,” said UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, who announced the initiative on May 21. “Misinformation spreads online, in messaging apps and person to person. Its creators use savvy production and distribution methods. To counter it, scientists and institutions like the United Nations need to reach people with accurate information they can trust.”

Guided by the UN Department for Global Communications, the Verified initiative intends to provide information on three themes: science – to save lives; solidarity – to promote local and global cooperation, and solutions – to advocate for support to impacted populations. Recovery packages that tackle the climate crisis and address the root causes of poverty, inequality and hunger are part of the trusted information.

The initiative is partnering with UN agencies and UN country teams, influencers, civil society, business and media organizations to disseminate trusted, accurate content and work with social media platforms to root out hate and harmful assertions about COVID-19.

“In many countries, the Misinformation surging across digital channels is impeding the public health response and stirring unrest. There are disturbing efforts to exploit the crisis to advance nativism or to target minority groups, which could worsen as the strain on societies grows and the economic and social fallout kicks in,” said Melissa Fleming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

“The Verified initiative will also work to address this trend with hopeful content that celebrates local acts of humanity, the contributions of refugees and migrants, and makes a case for global cooperation.”

The initiative is a collaboration with Purpose, one of the world’s leading social mobilization organizations. The IKEA Foundation, Luminate, the UN Foundation and others around the world are supporting the initiative. [IDN-InDepthNews – 02 July 2020]

Image credit: United Nations

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