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Health Canada actively working to get Canadians involved in spotting fake information about COVID-19

National health care agency says bad information being shared online can actually harm fellow Canadians
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Health Canada has issued guidelines on how people should react when seeing COVID-19 misinformation on social media. 

The guidelines ask the reader to consider whether the source of the social media information is reliable before sharing it. Is it the sort of information that can be verified by a second source?

The latest statement from Health Canada is one of several similar efforts this year to address the misinformation/disinformation efforts by some individuals on social media who believe they know differently from the majority of medical scientists. 

Health Canada said reliable sources of information for all provinces and territories can be found through its website.

This includes separate pages for the province of Ontario that give daily COVID-19 updates as well as a web page for self-assessment.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Canadians can be more active in countering misinformation by using their media and digital literacy skills.

"I am increasingly concerned about the number of false and misleading claims related to COVID-19 that make it more difficult for Canadians to determine fact from fiction and make informed decisions. So how do we make sense of what we see, hear and read?" Tam wrote in a Health Canada statement. 

She is encouraging Canadians not to automatically share or discuss information on social media unless they verify the source and authenticity. Tam said a lot of information is spread and shared by people we trust, because we automatically think they have done their research. 

Tam said misinformation happens when people share incorrect information because they don’t know any better. She said disinformation is when people deliberately share bad information meant to disrupt or mislead the correct course of action, especially in public health.

She said there are several Canadian websites available to help citizens take a few moments to determine whether information is reliable. She recommended checking out SPOTFakeNews.Ca to give a more realistic perspective on what you are reading or watching. Another social media site is ScienceUpFirst where you can easily identify misinformation, said Health Canada. Another website is called MediaSmarts and it has ways to help children, parents and teachers hone their media literacy skills. It includes a link to another useful link called break-the-fake, which gives tips and pointers on helping to break the chain of fake information.