The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the potential of social media to quickly disseminate health information to vast online communities, impacting health decisions, participation in health systems and, consequently, the health of entire populations.
Never-ending streams of online posts, tweets and videos sharing health-focused information resulted in a co-occurring “infodemic,” overwhelming the public with a combination of accurate information and harmful misinformation.
When considering daily social media consumption, Statistics Canada estimates that 15- to 34-year-old Canadians are the highest active user group on social media. Moreover, “viral” spread or waves of online engagement are often tied to online trends or influencers. From the 2018 Tide Pod challenge to the most recent Nyquil Chicken Challenge, trends quickly spread and can pose physical, mental and even destructive health consequences.
As online trends continue to perpetuate misinformation, these trends can lead to particularly harmful consequences in marginalized communities. Many Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) communities continue to struggle with stressors relating to painful histories of exploitation, including medical experimentation, that can result in mistrust or skepticism of health-care systems. Furthermore, many BIPOC communities face an additional hurdle as the ingrained racism linked to colonialism within our health-care system impacts the delivery of health care and health information. Most existing online health information is Anglocentric, Eurocentric, text-heavy and based on the priorities of health-care providers. Likewise, online myth busting of health misinformation is available primarily on English platforms and spaces.
As such, there is a great need for health information to be tailored and adapted to the priorities of BIPOC communities. Thus, the Our Kids’ Health (OKH) network was established to create reliable resources and information for children, youth and caregivers across 10 different cultural-linguistic channels. Using an equity and diversity lens, social media content shared by OKH spans the