Those tiny hippos in your house? They’re back to teach us about ‘fake news’

Ottawa, ON – October 1, 2019

They’re cute, they steal your socks, they ride your robot vacuum… and they’re back to help us remember to not believe everything we see online. The house hippo who stole our hearts in a public service announcement in 1999 has come back to Break the Fake in a new campaign from MediaSmarts, Canada’s centre for digital and media literacy.

The original campaign was created to teach kids to think critically about what they see on TV, and the tiny hippo became a beloved Canadian symbol. Break the Fake, a campaign launching October 1st, is bringing the hippo back to encourage people of all ages to check information they see online.

“Many Canadians remember the little hippos fondly, so we thought they were the perfect reminder that just because we want something to be true, doesn’t mean we should believe it,” said Kathryn Ann Hill, Executive Director at MediaSmarts. “Our goal is for everyone to start making it a habit to verify information before sharing it – we have developed easy to use tools and resources so that everyone can easily learn how to Break the Fake.”

Almost 90 percent of Canadians have admitted to falling for false news or information online, according to a recent poll, and ‘misinformation’ was named by parents as the top concern for their kids online, ahead of violence and cyberbullying, in MediaSmarts’ recent research.

MediaSmarts is launching the campaign ahead of Media Literacy Week (October 7-11), a national event that includes over a 100 media literacy activities across Canada. Canadians will also have access to free Break the Fake resources including a workshop, tip sheets, educational videos, lesson plans for teachers and more, for use during Media Literacy Week and beyond.

The Break the Fake campaign has been made possible by the Government of Canada with support from Bell Media.

Media Literacy Week is an annual national campaign hosted by MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teachers Federation to promote digital and media literacy, with activities and events taking place in classrooms, libraries, museums and community groups from coast to coast to coast.

Media Literacy Week is supported by Telus, Facebook, Bell, Twitter, YouTube, the Newfoundland & Labrador Teachers’ Association, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.

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About MediaSmarts

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.


Tricia Grant
Manager of Marketing and Communications
613-224-7721 ext. 231