Rapid response project of the Social Media Lab

News, Social Media, and Misinformation Survey


[New Survey Report] Inoculating against an Infodemic: A Canada-wide COVID-19 News, Social Media, and Misinformation

This survey report was produced by the Social Media Lab ( at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. It is released as part of the COVID-19 Misinformation Portal (, a rapid response project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Since the first COVID-19 lockdown order, social media has emerged as an indispensable lifeline for people to connect to friends, families, classmates, and co-workers. This increasing reliance on social media is not without its problems; social media is well-established as a vector in the spread of false narratives. To examine the “digital hygiene” practices of Canadians during this unprecedented health crisis, we asked 1,500 online Canadian adults (18+) about where they get news about COVID-19 from, how often they encounter misinformation on this topic, and what do they do about it.

“One of the primary goals of this Canada-wide survey was to understand what strategies social media users employ when seeing COVID-19 content that they think is false or misleading,” say Anatoliy Gruzd and Philip Mai, co-authors of the report and co-directors of the Ryerson University Social Media Lab.


  • Most Canadians say they trust the accuracy of COVID-19 news more from official information sources such as the public service and government ministries & departments than from political parties or even their friends and family.
  • More Canadians prefer to get their COVID-19 news from television (60%) than from social media (22%).
  • Facebook and Reddit are the two most popular sites for COVID-19 news among their users, but newcomer TikTok also made a surprise showing as a site Canadians are turning to for news about the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 misinformation was reported present on all popular social media sites and messaging apps in Canada.
  • 68% of Canadians reported encountering COVID-19 misinformation on at least one of the social media sites/apps they use.
  • 80% of Facebook users, along with around 70% of Reddit, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube users reported seeing misinformation on these sites “sometimes” or more frequently.
  • Among those who reported encountering COVID-19 misinformation on social media sites/apps (1,019 out of 1,500), the majority (76%) indicated they would consult other sources to verify information.
  • And while most social media companies rely on their users to flag problems to some extent, surprisingly 56% of respondents in this cohort said they had never reported an account/post that shared misinformation to the social media site.


Twitter: @SMLabTO

Email: [email protected]