Fact-checking COVID-19 information

Details of Fact-checking COVID-19 information

Tips to Evaluate COVID-19 Resources

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an enormous amount of information has been communicated about the virus and how to keep ourselves and our workplaces safe.

Unfortunately, not all of this information is reliable. It might not be applicable to your specific workplace situation, or it could change as the pandemic continues to evolve. Here are some tips on determining if you should use a particular COVID-19 resource.

Illustration of a tablet being held by a person, with COVID-19 resources on its display.

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Three questions to ask

Before using COVID-19 guidance information in your workplace, make sure it is trustworthy, applicable, and current. Here are three fact-checking questions you can ask.

1. Can the information source be trusted?

Always use official sources that are credible and trustworthy, such as those who:

  • Are widely recognized as trusted subject experts.
  • Post guidance that is based on accepted scientific data and research.
  • Use a critical appraisal process to form their decisions.
  • May have the legal authority to set policy and write legislation.
  • Provide current and applicable legislation and guidance.
  • Are impartial and unbiased.
  • Are transparent about their purpose, mandate, and funding.
  • Provide links to other credible sources and references.
  • Are supported by other official sources.
  • Offer assistance with interpreting and applying the requirements.
  • Work to disprove unsubstantiated, harmful, and biased COVID-19 misinformation.

Credible information sources include:

  • Federal, provincial, and municipal governments
  • Current posted occupational health and safety legislation
  • Canadian occupational health and safety regulatory offices
  • Public health organizations and authorities
  • Enforcement officers and inspectors
  • Global organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Journals that publish peer-reviewed scientific literature
  • Certified occupational health and safety consultants and medical professionals
  • Industry associations

Here are some trustworthy occupational and COVID-19 information sources:

2. Does the information apply to my workplace?

COVID-19 guidance isn’t always one-size-fits-all. Make sure you are using the appropriate information for your workplace and the type of work being done.

Your workplace might have sector-specific regulations, requirements, and guidance. For example, healthcare settings have very specific personal protective equipment (PPE), isolation, and disinfection requirements that must be followed.

The jurisdiction in which your workplace operates is also important. Your workplace may be regulated at the federal or provincial level, and each province may have its own approach to legislating health and safety. For example, the laws about who pays for PPE (employer or worker) are not the same in every province.

3. Is the information current?

Check the original publication date, ‘currency date’, or ‘last updated’ date. The current situation, knowledge, and guidance may have changed since the information was first published. For example, instructions from the government regarding essential services, building occupancy and gathering size limits, non-medical mask use, and other protective control measures could change as the pandemic continues to evolve. Health and safety legislation is also periodically updated or revoked; make sure you are not using an outdated or archived version, especially if you got the information online. Continue to check for updated information so you can adjust your workplace response.

The COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

The abundance of misinformation circulating about COVID-19 and the pandemic response has led to the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a COVID-19 ‘Infodemic’.

We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we’re fighting an infodemic. ~ WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Munich Security Conference, February 15, 2020

Infodemic: overabundance of information – some accurate and some not – that occurs during an epidemic. It can lead to confusion and ultimately mistrust in governments and public health response.

Infodemic management: applying evidence-based interventions that bring understandable, localized evidence-based information to citizens and drive positive health-seeking behaviour.

The right message at the right time from the right messenger through the right medium can save lives - misinformation or mixed messages can cost lives.” ~ WHO

Organizations such as WHO and UNESCO are working to understand and develop ways to combat the COVID-19 infodemic on a global scale. Learn more about the infodemic and the emerging fields of Infodemiology and Infodemic Management:

Myth busting

Hoaxes, myths, and misinformation about COVID-19 can spread rapidly on social media, undermining public health and safety efforts and resulting in harm to people.

While many platforms are beginning to add built-in fact-checking tools, you can help stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation by:

  • Not sharing rumours and speculation.
  • Double-checking your facts.
  • Using trusted sources to get news and information.
  • Asking “how do you know that’s true?” when discussing COVID-19.
  • Speaking up when you see false information being shared.

Several COVID-19 myths found on social media have been proven false, including:

  • NO, 5G mobile networks do not spread COVID-19.
  • NO, wearing a medical mask does not cause CO2 intoxication or oxygen deficiency.
  • NO, injecting or ingesting bleach does not cure COVID-19, and is very dangerous.

Fact-checking websites and tools

Here are some helpful websites and tools that you can use to check COVID-19 information you come across.

Document last updated on December 4, 2020