A Canadian media non-profit is launching a campaign against fake news after recent polling found Canadians are regularly exposed to misinformation but don't always have the knowledge to combat it.

The Canadian Journalism Foundation's "Doubt It?" campaign aims to be an engaging collection of online quizzes and public service announcements from Canadian media personalities such as retired CBC host Peter Mansbridge.

Recent polling by Ipsos, Earnscliffe Strategy Group and MIT researchers suggests nearly all Canadians have come across misinformation online, yet only 40 per cent feel they know how to differentiate between fake news and the real thing.

The polls also found 90 per cent of Canadians admitted to falling for fake news in the past, and only a third of them regularly check to see if the stories they're consuming are legitimate.

CJF president Natalie Turvey said the campaign aims to use humour to engage news consumers and get people talking.

"We're looking at the simplest, most straightforward and small actions that Canadians can incorporate to have changes in how they're consuming news and information," Turvey said in a phone interview.

"All of these techniques take 10 to 30 seconds to verify if a claim is real."

Some of the techniques she cited include checking dates, googling to see if other outlets are covering the story, and being skeptical of items that provoke a particularly strong emotional reaction.

Turvey said they've tried to make the campaign humorous and fun so that it's engaging. To do that, they've commissioned public service announcements from Canadian YouTube stars from a channel called AsapSCIENCE, which has over eight million subscribers.

Google News, which supported the campaign to the tune of $1 million in funding, said promoting media literacy and fighting misinformation were among the company's top concerns.

"To be an engaged citizen, you have to have access to quality journalism… you have to understand what is quality journalism and what is not," said Richard Gingras, vice-president of Google News.

Gingras said the benefit of a program like "Doubt It?" is that it targets people of all ages and backgrounds, and gives people a way to learn about the issue outside of a classroom.

"An election cycle is a very rich target for misinformation," he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2019.

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One can only applaud the intiative and sincerely wish it well. We can pray for it's success.

In my old age I've become pessimistic. The problem with fake news (otherwise known as lying) is that deceit is endemic to virtually all life on earth. The "lower" life forms are adept masters of disguise and misdirection - a successful strategy against predatory enemies. The sophistication of these disguise mechanisms would put the efforts of ad agencies to shame.

The current problem with deceit and lying is the speed with which it spreads and the human/digital machine manipulations that amplify its deceitfulness, and so cleverly obscures its origins and veracity.

This success has been enabled by those who have created the digital mechanisms and who derive obscene profits from them. Their natural reluctance to constrict those profits, no matter how dirty with deceit they are, is the proximate cause of the pandemic. The creators are also the primary gatekeepers and for too long they have shielded themselves behind the mantra of "free speech", ignoring the common sense limits to free speech. Apervasive phenomenon on social media is the seemingly innocuous development of the "influencers" on social media. Perhaps initially benign their pervasive presence has morphed into a cancer in the social contract. The hidden commercial exchange mechanism behind the posts is just another form of marketing manipulation but the unintended consequences are the dismal chasm between influencers and the reality of most people's lives.

Public Information campaigns like that reported in this article aren't even equivalent to sticking a finger in the leaking dike. The justly referenced tsunami of deliberate misinformation that has overwhelmed the Internet and social media have had life altering/degrading effects on this planet.

Most likely, the only remedy is for the justice system to adapt the existing laws against slander and defamation and introduce into the Criminal code analogus offences that carry significant punishment upon conviction. Either that, or the Civil Tort laws rally to establish fines or reparations comensurate with the harms inflicted on individuals, the public weal, and other parties for whom civil tort law exists.

Diminution of profit - whether measured in money or power, is the only lasting strategy. When the law of diminishing returns kicks in, the courses of history and evolution change.