“Check First. Share After” campaign aims to help stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation

Most Canadians probably can’t make a million masks. But this campaign can help save lives.

May 20, 2020 - MediaSmarts, Canada’s not-for-profit centre for digital literacy, is launching the Check First. Share After campaign today to encourage Canadians to check the source of info about COVID-19 before sharing it.

The main message of the campaign? Most of us probably can’t manufacture protective equipment in our homes or develop a treatment for the virus, but there is something we can all do: help stop the spread of misinformation.

The campaign features a video PSA, an educational website CheckThenShare.ca and an extensive social media campaign with Canadian personalities like John Rush of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Yolanda Gampp of How to Cake It, and Matt Basile, founder of Fidel Gastro’s Food Company, on board to help promote the message.   

Amidst a pandemic where every share of misinformation can be harmful to the health and well-being of Canadians, MediaSmarts, along with the University of Alberta’s Health Law Institute, is reminding Canadians to turn to trusted expert sources when it comes to info about the virus.   

“Many of us have received one of those unsourced voice memos with advice from ‘a doctor in Spain’, or seen a social media post promoting some immune-boosting elixir,” says Timothy Caulfield, Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. “While some of these may be relatively innocuous messages, others may lead to more dangerous actions.”

What’s true in either case is that an overload of false information makes the good information harder to come by. Meanwhile, sharing good, accurate info helps drown out the noise.

Kathryn Ann Hill, Executive Director of MediaSmarts, adds: “It’s really easy to be fooled by misinformation online, and it happens to all of us. We all want to help our friends and family by sharing info with them, but we can truly show we care by being good digital citizens and taking a moment to pause and check if the info comes from a trusted expert source - like the Public Health Agency of Canada or a reputable news outlet - before sharing it.”

Key Messages:

  • The campaign’s key message for Canadians: “Before you share, pause, check the source, and make sure it’s legit.” 
  • New research shows that asking people to pause and think before sharing can reduce the spread of false information.
  • Researchers have also found that during a pandemic reducing bad information by just 10% has a significant impact on the severity of the outbreak.

“The fight against false and misleading online information is essential, especially in these uncertain and difficult times. We are very proud to support the work MediaSmarts is doing to empower Canadians and help them identify and obtain reliable information on COVID-19 for their own safety and the safety of those around them.”

- The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage

If you’d like to get involved in the campaign and help spread the word, please get in touch!

The Check First. Share After. campaign has been made possible by the Government of Canada with support from Bell Media, Corus Entertainment, APTN and Facebook.

MediaSmarts is the national, bilingual, not-for-profit centre for digital and media literacy. For the past 25 years, MediaSmarts has advanced digital and media literacy in Canadian schools, homes, and communities, delivered high quality digital and media literacy programs and resources, and conducted vital research that contributes to the development of informed public policy on issues related to media. mediasmarts.ca

Project partners:

Health and Law Institute at the University of Alberta

Canadian Journalism Foundation

Institute for Canadian Citizenship

For more information:

Tricia Grant
Manager of Marketing and Communications
MediaSmarts
tgrant@mediasmarts.ca
613-224-7721 ext. 231