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The Covid19Facts.ca portal is now online!

June 29, 2020   100 Views   7 min
The Covid19Facts.ca portal is now online!

The Covid19Facts.ca portal, developed by the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) with funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, went online today - at least, that's what a press release from the SANB announced earlier today.

According to our research, this statement is accurate and factually correct.

Claim: The bilingual fact-checking platform www.Covid19Facts.ca is now online 

Verdict: Accurate

What is Covid19Facts.ca?

Covid19Facts.ca is an online portal which provides practical knowledge and tools so that together we can increase our resilience to and fight misinformation about COVID-19. More specifically, the portal aims to support and equip people to:

  • Fact-check information and news about COVID-19;
  • Access reliable, official, verified sources of information on COVID-19;
  • Empower themselves with new knowledge and practical tools to understand and fight misinformation.

"With the Covid19Facts.ca, we want to engage people in a collaborative approach to help combat misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19. Today we are launching this platform. As the weeks go by, we will be adding additional content and practical tools," says Alexandre Cédric Doucet, President of the SANB. "The Covid19Facts.ca portal has several features that set it apart from other fact-checking sites. First, we are in the scientific and medical fields, not politics. We also have an educational mandate to help increase people's critical thinking skills in several ways: most of our fact-checking articles offer tips to counter misinformation; we will soon be offering courses against misinformation; and our "Behind the Scenes" section invites users to see how we operate internally. Our Framework for Fighting Misinformation is unique in the world and finally, our platform is powered by an original and exclusive technology that allows search engines to understand the information in our fact-checked articles and display our verdict automatically," concluded Mr. Doucet.

www.Covid19Facts.ca: an active and bilingual platform

Covid19Facts.ca is for everyone. It currently operates in both English and French. Services in some of Canada's indigenous languages will be added.

An Internet search reveals that when www.Covid19Facts.ca is entered into the most popular search engines, we are directed to an electronic portal that is active. In addition, when the search is done using the address that leads to the French version of the platform, www.FaitsCovid19.ca, we are also directed to an active site. Users can switch from one language to the other by clicking on a button at the top of the home page.

The decision to offer a bilingual platform was an easy one, because health emergencies such as COVID-19 can disproportionately affect certain linguistic and cultural communities. From the outset, health and e-health literacy is a difficult skill to acquire and is even more difficult to maintain when there is a lack of accurate, factual information in one's own language or when misinformation spreads quickly through social networks.

Currently, most fact-checking sites offer services in English only, or offer fewer services in French than in English. The SANB, which manages Covid19Facts.ca, is well positioned to fill this gap, thanks to its mandate, clientele, experience and network.

“Having access to a platform like Covid19Facts.ca in both official languages is important," said Jean Johnson, President of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada (FCFA), which joined the project as a partner. "This is an issue that will continue to grow in importance in the years to come, and our civil society must play a leadership role in understanding and countering misinformation. I am pleased to see the SANB breaking new ground in this regard”.

A digital citizenship initiative

The SANB is the political representation structure of the French Acadian population in New Brunswick. It is dedicated to defending and promoting the rights and interests of the province's Acadian and francophone communities. As part of its mandate, the SANB has developed a unique expertise in the fight against disinformation by developing and managing ExactNB, a fact-checking website that aims to provide accurate information and address misinformation about Canada's official languages, English and French.

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Canadian Heritage, through its Digital Citizen Contribution Program, provided funding to the SANB to adapt and develop its unique tools and knowledge to address misinformation about COVID-19. The Program supports research on fightin online misinformation and other threats to democracy and social cohesion in Canada.

"When we face times of uncertainty, we are even more vulnerable to misinformation and disinformation. That's why we welcome the arrival of the www.Covid19Facts.ca. Having visited the website, I appreciated the balance of fact-checking articles and resources such as the Frequently Asked Questions and the case study," said Carol Jolin, President of the Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario, another partner organization in the project. "These tools will be very useful not only for Francophones in the Atlantic provinces, but also for all Francophones living in minority situations, as well as the broader Canadian and even international population," added Mr. Jolin.

Original and exclusive technology

Once an article has been fact-checked and published, Covid19Facts.ca creates a machine-readable version in the form of structured data. This structured data is built dynamically using a combination of modern programming best practices and critical journalistic concepts established by industry leaders such as Google, Facebook, Schema.org and the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).The automatic implementation of a high degree of structured information in each of our fact-checked articles allows computers to efficiently process and "understand” the content.

While there are many possible applications for structured data, it has become an essential tool in the fight against online misinformation. By exploiting this data, search engines and social networking platforms can quickly and automatically slow down the spread of misinformation and disinformation.

The Covid19Facts.ca portal is powered by FactPress, a content management system built around the fact-checking process. (Learn more about FactPress.)

Misinformation and disinformation, a growing epidemic

The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all. So does misinformation and disinformation. They can harm our health, the health of others, our relationships with others, people's reputations and jobs, our societies and the economy, amongst many other things. We all have a role to play in stopping the spread of misinformation and disinformation, just as we all have a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Why do we have a role to play? Because many of us unknowingly spread misinformation and/or disinformation.

"It's very important as a society that we give ourselves the tools we need to fight misinformation," adds Mr. Doucet, President of the SANB. "With this project, the SANB is at the cutting edge of technology, which allows us to develop an Acadian expertise in a field that is crucially important for our social cohesion," added Mr. Doucet.

A unique framework to fight misinformation

In the fight against misinformation, we must all act in a coordinated manner. While different groups have different ways of stopping the spread of misinformation and disinformation, most groups and initiatives do not actively and systematically involve citizens. Although there are a growing number of practical articles, checklists and useful tips for citizens, their sheer volume and diversity can seem daunting. That is why we have created a simple, easy-to-remember framework that can help us all fight misinformation. When information arrives in your inbox or on your news feed, or if you see it on television, you can simply apply our FACTS Framework to Fight Misinformation and Disinformation. This unique and original framework is a method that you can use to help determine if a piece of information is accurate and decide whether or not to share it. It's an acronym for the words Flag, Analyse, Correct, Transform, and Share. 

An inevitable verdict

The English and French versions of the Covid19Facts.ca portal are currently available to everyone in both English and French, in both desktop and mobile versions. The press release announcing the launch (this press release!) is now online on the SANB website. The SANB's partners have shared their impressions on the platform after testing it. All these facts lead us to conclude that it is accurate to say that the bilingual fact-checking portal Covid19Facts.ca is now online.

Happy browsing!

~~~

Sources and contact

info@faitscovid19.ca

www.faitscovid19.ca

info@covid19facts.ca

www.covid19facts.ca


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