A coalition of scientists, communicators and health experts have come together in a nationwide initiative to empower Canadians to work together against misinformation about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines. #ScienceUpFirst is a digital awareness and engagement campaign that will flood and disrupt social media, in an effort to debunk misinformation, and amplify best-in-class science-based content.

This initiative emerged from conversations between Senator Stan Kutcher of Nova Scotia and Professor Timothy Caulfield, who assembled a growing team of experts. Led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta, #ScienceUpFirst is powered by dedicated volunteers and renowned experts in fields such as infectious disease, biological science, genetics, epidemiology and science communications. “Effectively countering the COVID-19 misinformation infodemic is essential to improve the health of all Canadians,” says Senator Kutcher.

There is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission, and government response. The World Health Organization has classified this rise in misinformation as a global infodemic, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians.

“The need for empathetic, inclusive and equitable access to accurate scientific information has never been greater. As a member of #ScienceUpFirst Steering Committee, I am excited to be part of a project that not only tackles misinformation, but also strives to make science accessible for all,” says Fatima Tokhmafshan, a geneticist and bioethicist based at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. “My experiences as a queer, racialized, low-income graduate trainee receiving tremendous support and world-class mentorship at McGill University have transformed me into a science communicator passionate about empowering marginalized groups with science. With #ScienceUpFirst, I hope to empower diverse groups to protect their communities against misinformation.”

#ScienceUpFirst provides support for all Canadians working together against misinformation.  Following proven guidelines to tackle misinformation, the coalition will evaluate the best available science-based content already being shared on many platforms and in many languages, and amplify through their channels. As well, with expert input from renowned scientists and researchers, the #ScienceUpFirst initiative will create unique science-based content to share via their social media channels.

“We’re calling on all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, to come together and join us in building a movement that supports science and truth,” says Tara Moriarty, Associate Professor of Infectious Disease at University of Toronto, and Co-lead of Covid-19 Resources Canada. “This initiative ensures that all Canadians are empowered to share the best science-based information, knowing that #ScienceUpFirst is here to amplify their dedication and hard work.”

There are three distinct ways to join the movement: follow @scienceupfirst on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and engage and share with your networks using the hashtag #ScienceUpFirst; Tag @scienceupfirst in COVID-19 science-based posts AND misinformation posts on all social media channels; and visit #ScienceUpFirst to sign up for a weekly newsletter.

With source files from #ScienceUpFirst