From McGill University:
Misinformation about COVID-19 is spreading from the United States into Canada, undermining efforts to mitigate the pandemic. A study led by McGill University shows that Canadians who use social media are more likely to consume this misinformation, embrace false beliefs about COVID-19, and subsequently spread them.
Many Canadians believe conspiracy theories, poorly-sourced medical advice, and information trivializing the virus—even though news outlets and political leaders in the country have generally focused on providing reliable scientific information. How then, is misinformation spreading so rapidly?
“A lot of Canadians are struggling to understand COVID-19 denialism and anti-vaccination attitudes among their loved ones,” says lead author Aengus Bridgman, a PhD Candidate in Political Science at McGill University under the supervision of Dietlind Stolle. According to the study, published in Frontiers in Political Science, these attitudes are partially the result of massive Canadian consumption of information from the United States.
The researchers analyzed the behaviours of the 200,000 most active Canadian Twitter users and conducted surveys on news consumption habits and COVID-19 beliefs of Canadians. They found that those who use social media are relatively more exposed to US-based information than domestic sources of information, and that exposure to US news outlets was associated with misperceptions about COVID-19.
They also found that most of the misinformation circulating on Twitter shared by Canadians was retweeted from US sources. Canadians who followed more American users were more likely to post misinformation.
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