Most of the information we get these days is from the Internet. While this makes information more accessible, it can also make it a lot harder to figure out what is true and what’s not. This is especially true in situations like COVID-19 and vaccinations.
You can use the following tips to figure out how to access reliable and safe information, and avoid spreading misinformation.
Look for citations & sources
Any article or post about COVID-19 and/or vaccinations should have sources for where they are getting their medical information. This way you can see where the information is coming from.
While sources and citations (notes explaining where information came from) are helpful, it’s also important to make sure those sources have a good reputation and are from a safe, factual source.
Check the URL
The URL is the same thing as a web address. For example, our URL/web address is braininjurycanada.ca. It also has a little lock next to it. This little lock means that it is safe and secure for you to visit the website.
Website addresses are normally the names of organizations, businesses, or publications, and have text in them that explain what you will find on the page. For example, braininjurycanada.ca/en/traumatic-brain-injury/ is a page on traumatic brain injury. We include citations telling you where our information is coming from and how you can see that information yourself.
When looking at websites for information, you can look at the web address to learn more about whether the source is a trust-worthy one. The way websites end can also tell you a lot about them :
- .ca is a Canadian website
- .com is one of the most common endings for website addresses
- .org is mostly used by non-profits
- .edu is sometimes used by universities and colleges
- .gov is sometimes used by governments
Have a couple sources bookmarked that you can always rely on
Websites like ours are meant to be a reliable source of information that people can come back to again and again to find information and to check their facts. While you may learn information from a wide variety of places, having a couple online sources that you have 100% confidence in makes it easier for you to check facts and to find information you can trust.
For COVID-19 and vaccine information, a few websites you can start with include:
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): The Government of Canada
- The Canadian Broadcasting Company – this is a publicly owned news and information source if you’re looking for the latest news about COVID-19
- The World Health Organization – a global health organization
You can also use your province/territory’s health authority website for the most up-to-date information.
Using braininjurycanada.ca as an example
You find our page about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines when searching for information about vaccines.
Your first look at the URL: braininjurycanada.ca/en/covid-19/about/. The URL is clear and matches the information that is on the page – it’s about COVID-19 and the vaccine. The URL also has that little lock we mentioned earlier, meaning it’s safe for you to use this website.
On our website, we make it clear that we source our information. As you read the content, you also see that we use citations to mark a place where we are using a source. On our website, citations look like this: , , etc.
At the bottom of the page, there is a link that says ‘See Sources’. This means you can see every source we use. When you look at the sources for this page, they are from the Government of Canada and the Mayo Clinic, which is a non-profit medical group that is well-known for its reliable reputation.
Based on this information, you can be confident that this information is trustworthy.
If you find information on social media, double check it
A lot of us find our news and information on social media these days. This can include:
These are just a few examples of social media platforms. You may see posts, pictures, or videos sharing information. But if you can’t figure out where the post or the information is coming from, that information may not be right (also called misinformation). And unfortunately, it’s easy for misinformation to spread on social media because it’s so easy to share it. This can be really dangerous, particularly when the information is related to health.
During the pandemic, 90% of Canadians used online sources for information about COVID-19 . 96% of those Canadians suspected they were seeing misinformation (false, inaccurate, and/or misleading) . Yet online 20% regularly checked their sources, and most people used or shared the information without knowing if it was right .
Social media can be helpful in finding information – but it’s important to use the steps above to make sure the information is reliable. You can also ask yourself the following questions when you see information on social media  :
- Where is this information coming from?
- Is it trying to get me to click on a link?
- Is it making statements or claims that seem too good to be true?
- Can I find a reputable source that I trust that matches this information?
- Have I read the whole article or post, or did I just read the title/picture?
- Are there spelling errors in the information? This can mean the information is incorrect
Social media posts in particular can cause you to have a strong emotional response, which may make you more likely to trust the information. But it’s important to check that information, even if it looks right.
You can follow the profiles of organizations and/or sources you trust, which may make it easier for you to find reliable information on your social media.
How can I tell if health information is good or bad? – heretohelp BC has a lot of helpful information on ways to look at health information online
- Finding health information online – The University Health Network
Canadian Institute for Health Information
- Health Canada
- How can I tell if health information is good or bad? – heretohelp BC
 Michigan State University, “Finding accurate information on the Internet“, 2013
 Statistics Canada, “Misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic“, 2021
 Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, “How to identify misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation“, 2022
 Ottawa Public Health, “Scams and Misinformation“, 2023