Myths about the COVID-19 vaccines: how can verified content be used to combat disinformation?

PortalCheck, the region's first digital hub established by UNESCO and Chequeado to combat pandemic-related misinformation at the regional level, has entered a new phase with the goal of empowering citizens on vaccines

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently undergoing a new conjunctural scenario, which is characterized, in part, by the social and health consequences of global vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and access. This new scenario has has exacerbated a mis-disinformation trend throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, putting people's lives in jeopardy.

In recent months, unverified content has experienced rapid viralization, reaching millions of individuals in a short period of time, posing a risk of misleading them and negatively harming their lives. This is why PortalCheck, the first digital portal in the region to centralize data verification tools and experiences to counter pandemic disinformation, is beginning on a new phase of its journey, focusing on combatting mis-disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

The new vaccine resource hub, as well as the PortalCheck TV and podcast series, will be officially launched on September 16th. Through educational tools and interactive conversations with experts and leaders, all of these contents are targeted at analyzing major themes related to combatting mis-disinformation related to vaccines in the context of the current pandemic.

A panel discussion will be held as part of the event to examine the best practices used in the region to combat the effects of disinformation. It will also give participants the chance to learn more about the roles of various actors participating in these processes, such as digital influencers, journalists, and fact-checking organizations. The spirit is centered on working together in a comprehensive manner to ensure that no one is left behind and to improve access to information for all populations, with a special focus on indigenous peoples. . You can participate through this link.

PortalCheck is a free tool that anybody can use to strengthen critical thinking skills, which is especially important in this age of information overload and uncertainty. Most crucial, vulnerable people want tools to help them navigate the present health crisis' news and information. To fulfill our mandate of leaving no one behind, the website includes tools to disprove myths and misleading claims regarding the coronavirus, as well as resources in a range of languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, and English, as well as Guarani, explained Sandra Sharman, UNESCO Project Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Laura Zommer, Chequeado's executive and media director, said

"This unprecedented vaccination campaign has brought with it a wave of mis-disinformation. This is why we are adding this new approach to PortalCheck, with more resources and new formats available so that the population is better informed”.

This new phase is highlighted by PortalCheck's content, which was recently published in July: a specialized COVID19 communication kit to share with governments, NGOs, and civil society. . This content, like the others, is also available in Guarani and is free and available to all.

PortalCheck is a regional project initiated in February 2021 by UNESCO and Chequeado, with funding from the European Union, to combat the negative impacts of disinformation in the context of the pandemic. More than 65,000 visitors have visited the website since then. . More information can be found here..

Meet the moderators and presenters for the inaugural event on September 16th:

Olivia Sohr (Argentina)
Director of Impact and New Initiatives, Chequeado
Olivia coordinates numerous journalistic initiatives, as well as Latam-Chequea, a network of Latin American fact-checkers.

Ludwwin Espitia (Colombia)
Digital strategist and Director of the technology and digital communication company Trigeon.
Collaborator in UNESCO projects related to access to public information and challenges to freedom of expression, in particular the fight against disinformation.


Guest speakers:

Aldo Bartra - “El Robot de Platón” (Perú)
Digital influencer
Science populariser and creator of several science channels on YouTube such as “El Robot de Platón”, with more than 2 million subscribers.

Gianella Tapullima (Perú)
Investigative journalist for Ojo Público. Gianella has done fact-checking on COVID-19 reportage with Peruvian indigenous peoples.

Dr. Rawdy Reales (Colombia)
Medical Doctor & Digital influencer
Rawdy specialises in internal medicine, teacher and creator of digital content in social networks..