Here at MediaSmarts, we’ve just wrapped up another research project called Reporting Platforms: Young Canadians Evaluate Efforts to Counter Disinformation. This project created space for youth from across Canada to examine and assess reporting processes on popular social media apps (like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube). We wanted to learn more about how young people feel about current efforts to counter misinformation and disinformation and what solutions they might have to address this particular online harm. To do this, we facilitated three focus groups with 36 participants ages 16 to 29, talked to them about how often they see misinformation and disinformation online and what they do about it, and asked them to comment on whether they trust platforms to keep them safe and informed while scrolling and sharing.
Studies have shown that communicating the scientific consensus on a topic can be a helpful strategy in the fight against misinformation. For example, a 2015 study found that “emphasizing the medical consensus about (childhood) vaccine safety is likely to be an effective pro-vaccine message.”
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more clear than ever that dealing with the misinformation surrounding COVID-19 requires us to come at it from every possible angle. We have needed trusted voices to provide strong, clear and sharable counter-messaging on social media.
It has been a challenging and stressful time for many of us, especially for those who live here in Ottawa and were in areas recently affected by the convoy. For many, the occupation meant concerns about safety, noise, increased anxiety and more. These effects have also been felt by our children.
As we consume the troubling news of the past few weeks, we have all seen that there are so many issues we’re dealing with in our digital world that have real life impacts: the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories, the proliferation of racist stereotypes, online hate and prejudice, and the attacks on journalists and freedom of the press.