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The causes and consequences of COVID-19 misperceptions: Understanding the role of news and social media


We investigate the relationship between media consumption, misinformation, and important attitudes and behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. We find that comparatively more misinformation circulates on social media platforms, while traditional news media tend to reinforce public health recommendations like social distancing. We find that exposure to social media is associated with misperceptions regarding basic facts about COVID-19 while the inverse is true for news media. These misperceptions are in turn associated with lower compliance with social distancing measures. We thus draw a clear link from misinformation on social media to behaviours and attitudes that potentially magnify the scale and lethality of COVID-19.

Read preprint here

Twitter thread here, with an unrolled version here

The Harvard Kennedy School: Misinformation Review Fellow Research: Pandemic Misinformation on Social Media Montreal Gazette: People who get news from Twitter and Facebook more likely to be misinformed: McGill study
CTV News: Canadians who turn to social media for COVID-19 news more prone to misconceptions: study

iHeartRADIO: MCGILL RESEARCHERS FIND FACEBOOK AND TWITTER ARE MISINFORMATION SPREADERS. La Presse: J’ai fait mes recherches Le Journal de Montréal: COVID-19: corrélation entre les fausses informations des médias sociaux et le non-respect des règles sanitaires Global News: Coronavirus: Social media users more likely to believe false information, McGill study suggests City News: Study: Social media users likely to believe fake news Radio Canada: Impact des fausses nouvelles sur la perception de la COVID-19 Radio Canada: C'est encore mieux l'après-midi
Radio Canada: Les usagers des médias sociaux plus vulnérables aux faussetés sur la COVID-19
National Post: COVID-19 conspiracy theories are creating a 'public health crisis' in Canada: experts Pod6ix: COVID CONSPIRACIES & MISINFO WITH AENGUS BRIDGMAN – LOCKDOWN TORONTO EP.12 CBC: Global rally against COVID-19 safety measures comes to Parliament Hill