Davos Diary: Disturbed by fake news, info on refugees | Hindustan Times
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Davos Diary: Disturbed by fake news, info on refugees

More than 60 heads of state and government, plus hundreds of business leaders, academics, civil society advocates and celebrities are meeting in Davos from Tuesday to Friday.

Davos Summit 2018 Updated: Jan 24, 2018 23:49 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Swiss armed security personnel stand guard on the rooftop of a hotel, next to letters covered in snow reading
Swiss armed security personnel stand guard on the rooftop of a hotel, next to letters covered in snow reading "Davos", near the Congress Centre in Davos, eastern Switzerland.(AFP Photo)

Running into former US secretary of state John Kerry (alone), the affable Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau (with retinue), actor and UNHCR ambassador Cate Blanchett (with retinue), Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg (with team) and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (with red shoelaces) on the streets is all in the day’s work at Davos, where heads of state, business, innovators and entrepreneurs gather to exchange ideas over raclette and champagne.

Man with a list

Davos still surprises. When I ask the stranger from San Francisco with a quirky sense of humour — “That’s a beautiful bird, I like birds but I can’t tell you what it is because I just know crows” — what he does, he says, “I made a list, it’s called Craiglist.”

He is the Craiglist-founder-turned-philanthropist Craig Newmark, who is worth US$1.3 billion, according to Forbes.

His interests have also evolved and he supports the News Integrity Initiative that connects journalists, technologists, academic institutions and communities to combat fake news. “People need access to reliable news and information and I am concerned about where news is headed,” he says.

Wiki news

“When I go online, I get the same ads. I get boats, I like boats. So advertisers know here’s a 50-year-old middle-aged man with a mid-life crisis who wants boats. They pay for clicks,” said Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales at a discussion on fake news. “We need to rework the business model of digital advertising — journalism can’t compete if it’s all about clicks.”

The displaced’s voice

Cate Blanchett got teary talking about her work with the world’s 65 million displaced people, for which she got the Crystal Award at WEF’s annual meeting. “They had to run because they were being shot at... he had the choice to carry his suitcases or his children, and he carried his children. That stays with me,” said the UNHCR goodwill ambassador, adding with a laugh, “And children are bloody heavy; I know, I’ve got four of them.”

“There’s a lot of misinformation in the media about refugees. The developing world is shouldering the burden, but the developed world is being told that refugees will be a burden,” she says.

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