COVID-19: misinformation undermines public confidence

If you spend five minutes browsing Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, you will find a lot of bad information.– notes Ahmed Al-Rawi, assistant professor of communications at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

The disinformation specialist also adds that the province, like Canada, is not immune to this phenomenon.

During the first months of the pandemic, 96% of Canadians polled using the Internet to search for information about COVID-19 indicated that they saw information that they believed to be false or misleading, Statistics Canada reported in February when an online series -Panel polls.

These posts are made for several reasons, sometimes including frustration. Many people are frustrated by the containment policies associated with the pandemic, the lack of job opportunities, or the psychological pressure that many live with.– explains Ahmed Al-Rawi.

Some of these posts may seem marginal, but others are designed to fool a large audience. Just over half of Canadians surveyed said they shared information about COVID-19 without first checking the source, according to Statistics Canada.

There are several rumors that British Columbia’s chief medical officer, Bonnie Henry, is traveling after a long Easter weekend. Some argue that she traveled to Victoria to visit her family without following her own recommendations.

Ministry of Health confirmed CBC News that Dr. Henry had indeed moved to Victoria but must return home after holding a press conference earlier in the day on the state of the pandemic in Vancouver.

This rumor, which persisted in the following weeks, is characteristic ofinfodemia, a term used by the World Health Organization that causes an overabundance of information, often misleading, during a pandemic.

Vitamin C and heat

The British Columbia Center for Infectious Disease Control (BCCDC) is also conducting a study on the number of British Columbians who have fallen victim to misinformation.

In a survey conducted last spring among more than 3,000 residents, the results BCCDC show that more than half of those surveyed believe in the effectiveness of unproven treatments for COVID-19, such as the use of vitamin C or heat.

Slightly more than half of respondents indicated that they receive information about the pandemic from Dr. Bonnie Henry, and still others prefer to contact the Center for Infectious Disease Control or various health authorities.

“Health authorities rely heavily on the Internet and Dr. Henry’s press conferences for communication,” explains one of the researchers at the research center. BCCDCEmily Rempel.

However, research shows that not all communities will receive information from these sources. Two-thirds of white respondents said they trust Dr. Henry, compared with half of those from China or South Asia and 31% of the indigenous population.

They are more vulnerable only because information is not available to them.– says Emily Rempel, noting, however, that the content is translated from BCCDC helped some communities get better information.

BCCDC research methodology

Lux Insights interviewed 3,073 British Columbians on behalf of the British Columbia Center for Infectious Disease Control (BCCDC) since age 14. april 2020 and 19 april 2020. The margin of error cannot be calculated on a non-probabilistic sample like this.

According to Alex Migdal

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