April 23, 2021

Report: “The US ‘Infodemic’ Has Spread to Canada, Fuelled by Social Media”

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.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Infodemic Pathways: Evaluating the Role That Traditional and Social Media Play in Cross-National Information Transfer (via Frontiers in Political Science)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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