COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media: Ethical Questions of Research and Regulation in the Canadian Context

This chapter reports on Canadian research into online misinformation pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic. The qualitative research reported on herein forms part of our longer-term goal, i.e., the development of an artificial intelligence (machine-learning) tool to assist social media platforms, online service providers and government agencies in identifying and responding to misinformation on social media. In this chapter, we consider the ethical and legal issues pertaining to qualitative analysis of social media posts and the pages and hashtags on which they appear, and the degree to which COVID-19 misinformation on social media could and should be regulated by governments and/or by the social media platforms themselves. We argue in favour of a balanced, harm-based approach, wherein rights to freedom of speech and privacy should only be abrogated when the potential harm exceeds the importance of those rights.


Karmvir Padda, Sarah-May Strange, Barry Cartwright, Richard Frank


In book: The COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethical Challenges and Considerations; Chapter: 3; Publisher: Ethics Press