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  • Nikki Mantell

Sharing is not caring

“Holy ****!! Watch — screenshot and share! A friend who is a nurse sent this to me!! Get the word out!”

In the last couple of months, three local people I know and like – real friends – have used Facebook to send me links to ‘news’ articles or videos that deliberately promote false information about the COVID-19 vaccine such as: it’s designed to alter our DNA, we will be implanted with a microchip, the virus doesn’t exist, etc.

I find this surprising, considering that neither these friends nor I are outlier ‘fringe’ types nor conspiracy theorists. They know I make a living by checking facts, so why are they sending to me obviously bogus propaganda?

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Fake news is spreading faster than the virus itself. According to the CBC, from the beginning of the pandemic through to October, Facebook removed “12 million pieces of individual misinformation content that is harmful in nature.” According to the article, if something is widely shared, is highly up-voted or has a lot of likes, more people are likely to believe it.

Anyone watching what’s happening south of our border already knows the extreme damage that sowers of misinformation can reap. But harmful campaigns of misinformation are on the rise here, too.

In Montreal, police are readying themselves to respond to a group that has threatened on social media to visit vaccination sites in order to hand out “accusation” forms to healthcare staff who perform the COVID-19 injection to try and stop the inoculations. Just down the road from us in Fort-Coulonge, an anti-lockdown protest was held last week,