People are familiar with World Trade Organization (WTO), a United Nation Organization to establish trade rules, regulate agreements, settle disputes, help developing countries and monitor trade relations between and among its 164 international members. WTO, established in 1995, has been instrumental in promoting world trade and enhancing world economy. In its 25 years of history, the world trade has quadrupled in dollar amount, 2.7 times in volume size and two times in world GDP， $80.9 trillion in 2017 . With limited resources on Earth, cooperation in product development, labor sharing, energy conservation and material recycling are absolutely necessary to sustain economic growth. The more trade in the world signifies more collaboration, more prosperity, more interaction and more cultural and social integration towards a harmonious global community. WTO has made a very significant contribution to the human globalization process and world prosperity where trade is a key element.
People are perhaps also familiar with the World Health Organization (WHO) as the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations system. WHO adheres to the UN values of integrity, professionalism and respect for diversification. WHO works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable people with a goal - people have universal health coverage, health emergencies protection, and better health and well-being by focusing on access to medical care and quality of healthcare, sustainable finance and financing, data and information monitoring and collection. These objectives require global cooperation to achieve. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated once again that WHO is so critically important in dealing with a world-wide health challenge. The pandemic has revealed that the global community must work together in fending off such a natural disaster. The world needs an effective vaccine working for the entire world population, not just for one nation or one continent.
In this paper, the author proposes that the UN needs to establish a World Media Organization (WMO) to define guidelines and rules about public media and to regulate its operation and propagation in the domestic and international environment for the benefit of maintaining a peaceful and culturally enriched global community. In the following, we present the arguments for the need of such a world organization. Information media have blossomed and come a long way since the Chinese first invented the printing (206 BC), woodblock printing (8th century CE) and Gutenberg, a German, first created the printing press (1450). With the advance of electronics, computer, communication networks and satellites today, we have multimedia information flourishing in our everyday life with print materials, web pages, e-books, television and a rich set of social media delivering vast amount of information through words, documents, music, pictures, movies and ever creative digital media encompassing all of the above. This is seemingly a blessing for the mankind except the unregulated proliferation of media also creates harmful problems.
Yes, we are in an information age. However, the above scenario also describes a tremendous quantitative byte-assault on human being with the arrival of the explosive information revolution. The benefits delivered by vast amount of multimedia information seem to be covering up the pitfalls and the devil being released by the media explosion. The U.S. media industry is of the size of $703 billion dollars projected to reach $803B by 2021. What is the problem with the fast growing media industry today? There are actually too numerous to elaborate in detail here except by broadly group them in some categories for discussion. We shall focus on the following four problem categories of media to strengthen our arguments for advocating the establishment of WMO:
I. Rhetoric in the Media
We talk about this first because its effect is seriously changing the behavior of nations. The rhetoric are destroying the diplomatic relations between countries and their people and creating hostile conditions leading to war or at the minimum generating hatred among nations. Are all rhetoric based on facts? The problem is that they are not. Furthermore, with continuous rhetoric, people get brain washed and hatred turns into violence. This has been happening among people and nations too numerous to elucidate here. What we need is a neutral inclusive international organization like WMO to regulate the rhetoric issue.
II. Fake News (Fake Information)
Fake news is a broad category affecting all elements of society, domestic and international. It contributes to the above category, rhetoric, making its effect worse. Before the media revolution, print media dominated. Because of the technology limitation and cost involved, the print media was far more self-regulated than today’s multimedia (including the print media). The publication process had a rigorous editorial procedure and authors had a higher moral principle which was destroyed or deteriorated today under the so-called freedom of speech. The end result is that the amount of fake news is so overwhelming, they twisted the fact and truth. People have too little time to make verification. Especially the learning population (not just young kids and students but also adult learners) they get misled, the damages are often too difficult to correct. An international organization like WMO can help make the verification and regulate the fake news.
III. Dangerous Speech (Criminal in Nature)
The freedom of speech also created another heaven for ‘dangerous speech’, dangerous information can create personal, societal, national and even international danger. Spreading terrorism, indoctrinating evil and hatred thoughts, luring innocent minds into cult-like organizations and advocating violence and ‘revolutions’ against existing legal systems are all dangerous speeches that serve no good purpose. Again, there are many incidences of violent crimes created which can be traced to media influence. We need an international media organization backed by the international body to prevent and remove these dangerous speeches.
IV. Information and Data Security
The proliferation of social media and the advancement of digital technology make information and data readily collectible and easily distributed. Personal private data, corporate business data and even national security data can be vulnerable due to hackers or malicious organizations of various sources. Safe guarding of these data is critically important. In our global community, the protection of such sensitive data and information definitely requires an international media organization to police such crimes with clear rules to regulate and severe punishment to deter criminals. The proliferation of social media crossing national boundary is especially of concern in this category.
From the above discussion, one can easily understand the need of media regulation in an international setting by an international organization. Recently, rhetoric, fake news, dangerous speech and data security issues have vividly appeared in world media, for example, on COVID-19 pandemic facts (origin of virus, fake conspiracy theory and accuracy of health impact data) or on Uighur Human Rights in Xinjiang (fake stories of genocide and concentration camps, smearing rhetoric on forced labor). The establishment of WMO is no less important as the WTO and WHO which have served the world well. We urge the UN to take an initiative to create such an organization quickly.
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.