Older Ontarians most involved in spreading COVID-19 misinformation online: study

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TORONTO — A new study suggests Ontario residents between the ages of 55 and 64 are most involved in spreading misinformation about COVID-19 on social media.

Research published today by the Ontario Medical Association found that six per cent of Ontarians are spreading misinformation about the pandemic online and the vast majority are older adults.

Men and women in that age group were almost equally involved in sharing misinformation and the research found many posters had been accessing right-leaning websites and U.S. politics blogs.

The study by Advanced Symbolics Inc. applied artificial intelligence technology to Twitter posts made between March 24, 2020 and March 24, 2021.

It found engagement was highest in eastern Ontario communities, including Ottawa, its surrounding areas and rural areas.

Association president Dr. Samantha Hill says the study shows misinformation needs to be addressed across all communities and demographic groups.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2021.

The Canadian Press