Last week, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, spoke out about misinformation and the impacts it’s having on Canadian confidence in a COVID-19 vaccination. Despite health experts around the world agreeing that a vaccine will be a critical step in the fight against the global pandemic, a Statistics Canada survey suggests that nearly a quarter of Canadians are hesitant about whether they would get inoculated against COVID-19.
And to be honest, none of this is surprising.
As communicators, we advise our clients on the value of consistent messaging. We put a lot of time and focus into making sure that, from top to bottom, brands are communicating the same ways across all internal and external channels. That consistency creates understanding and association, ensuring that audiences, whether it’s customers, employees or shareholders know exactly what that brand is about what it is they are trying to say.
In the case of the COVID-19, misinformation throws inconsistency into the mix. This creates confusion and doubt to a point where it’s harder for the public to find sources they can trust and information that’s accurate and grounded by facts.
Just as the world is looking for the antidote to the global pandemic, there’s an equally important fight happening to solve the “infodemic” of misinformation. For us, it’s been a rewarding experience partnering with the Canadian Journalism Foundation to help empower Canadians to think critically about the information they consume and share so that we can help stop the spread of misinformation and Keep Truth Well.
With so much uncertainty out there about COVID-19, it’s easy for anyone to get tripped up by misleading content. Here are some fact-checking tips to help navigate all of the news and information that’s shaping public discourse:
Check your gut
There are some pretty wild claims and conspiracy theories out there right now so listen to your inner skeptic. Plain and simple – if it seems sketchy, it probably is.
Check the claim
If you’re unsure about a claim, copy the headline into a web search and review the results. Chances are you’ll either see that the claim has been debunked by fact checkers or corroborated by a number of other reputable sources.
Check the source
Speaking of sources, look for people who know their facts like public health leaders, doctors and reputable news sources. If a claim is not coming from reputable, credentialed experts, doubt it.
Challenge the misinformation
If you see rumours and false news stories in your feed, call it out. However, confront the misinformation, not the person sharing it. Empathy goes a long way in addressing dubious information and starting bigger, more constructive conversations.
Share the truth
Give misinformative content less sunlight by proactively educating those around you with verifiable facts from quality sources.
The spread of COVID-19 misinformation is not going away any time soon. While governments and public health leaders continue addressing this growing challenge, we have the opportunity to take control over all of the false claims and hot takes out there in order to keep each other safe and healthy.
At the end of the day, it’s really up to each of us to advocate for the truth.
Senior Account Director