Canadians Falling Victim to COVID Conspiracy Theories

    The more a person relies on social media to learn about COVID-19, the more likely they are to be exposed to misinformation and to believe it, and to disregard physical distancing and other public health guidelines.

    Researchers say conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are spreading at an alarming rate across the country. And they warn that misinformation being shared online could lead to devastating consequences and push Canadians to shun important safety measures.

    Aengus Bridgman, a PhD candidate in political science at Montreal's McGill University, says "people should be enormously concerned." Bridgman co-authored a study published last month on COVID-19 misinformation and its impact on public health.

    It found the more a person relies on social media to learn about COVID-19, the more likely they are to be exposed to misinformation and to believe it, and to disregard physical distancing and other public health guidelines.

    Bridgman notes that about 16 per cent of Canadians use social media as their primary source of information on the virus.

    Another study published in May at Ottawa's Carleton University indicated 46 per cent of Canadians believed at least one of four unfounded COVID-19 theories: the virus was engineered in a Chinese lab; the virus is being spread to cover up the effects of 5G wireless technology; drugs such as hydroxychloroquine can cure COVID-19 patients; or rinsing your nose with a saline solution can protect you from infection.

     

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