Less than half of Canadians trust ‘reliable sources’ for information: federal survey

Less than half of Canadians have a high level of trust in “reliable sources” such as: government health agencies, public news sources, and scientists, according to an internal investigation by the Federal Privy Council.

The Privy Council report, “Misinformation and Disinformation: An International Effort to Use Behavioral Science to Tackle the Spread of Misinformation,” surveyed 1,872 Canadians using “behavioral interventions” to intent to share false headlines online” was investigated.

Among those surveyed, 42.9% of Canadians place a high degree of trust in public sources of information, especially institutional or authoritative sources such as government health agencies, health professionals, public news sources, and scientists. and report low trust in social media and family. , and friends.

The group was significantly older on average, more likely to have a college degree, had higher incomes, and exhibited “lower conspiratorial thinking and psychological reactance,” first obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter. said the report.

The report further divided two groups. The “distrusted” group, representing 22.5% of the sample, had the lowest trust in all sources, the lowest trust in government health agencies, and the highest trust in social media.

The group reportedly displayed “relatively high levels of conspiratorial thinking and psychological reactance and low openness to evidence.”

Another 34.6% of those surveyed reported a high degree of trust in social media, family and friends, and ranked government health agencies and scientists as the least trustworthy.

Epoch Times photo
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Teresa Tam, is seen in a teleconference as Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos looks on during a press conference on COVID-19 in Ottawa on January 7, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

“Exposure to false or misleading statements can cast doubt on official and factual information and undermine the integrity and credibility of democratic institutions and their ability to advance the public welfare through policy instruments. potential,” the report said.

A false headline is one that is “deemed false by a third-party fact-checking website.”

“Who believes and spreads false information in the first place, and why?” the report said. “Do our interventions work similarly for different subgroups of people?”

“Relying solely on traditional top-down approaches aimed at regulating content is insufficient to curb the imminent danger of misinformation,” the researchers wrote. “Innovative policy-making tools such as behavioral science can help provide immediate and long-term solutions to misinformation.”

“Individuals’ willingness to comply with COVID containment measures in Europe was found to be associated with trust in pre-pandemic policymakers,” the report notes.

During the pandemic, governments began “exploring opportunities to use behavioral science and experimentation in their COVID response,” according to the report.

The report notes that between April 2020 and April 2021, “troublesome signals” related to misinformation emerged in Canada. Specifically, a high level of belief in “pervasive knowledge gaps” and “verifiable misinformation about COVID-19.”

According to the report, increased “reliance on misinformation” affected “important health-related behaviors, such as the intention to receive vaccinations (and boosts) against COVID-19.”

“behavioral intervention”

This study attempted two ‘behavioral interventions’ for the Canadians studied in the study group. Attention Accuracy Prompts and Digital Media Literacy Tips. The report suggests that people’s intent to share false headlines about COVID could be reduced by 21% with “literacy tips.”

The ‘accuracy rating prompt’ gave participants a ‘neutral and non-COVID-19 related headline’ and asked them to rate their accuracy. Following this, participants received 14 headlines and were asked if they would like to share them on social media.

‘Digital Media Literacy Tips’ include ‘researching sources’, ‘checking evidence’, ‘looking at other reports’, and making sure other news outlets are reporting the same thing. I gave people a list of things to do, including tasks for , and “skeptical of headlines.”

Marnie Cathcart

Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.