Table 2:


ThemeParticipant quotations
Nature of online COVID-19 disinformation and misinformation
They think [COVID-19] is a hoax … So if someone doesn’t believe there’s a problem, even if they have the disease, they’re going to minimize it or they’re going to deny it … So people would not seek help on time because they do not believe, or their perception is that the disease is not real. So, by the time they present to the hospital, it’s too late, okay? (P024, female, 58 yr)
Some people say the vaccine was developed too fast, and if it is too fast how sure they are that it is effective … So, because of that, they don’t believe in taking it, because it may have bad effects in the future. (P008, male, 50 yr)
So when you have people say, “Oh, yeah, as soon as I got the vaccine, in fact I contracted COVID-19,” … . So you are not seeing people saying, “It saved me from this.” People are saying, “Well, you know, I still got the flu.” So it was like, “Well, what’s the point? If you’re getting sick from getting the vaccine, what’s the point of doing that? I’m not putting that foreign body or that toxin into my body.” (P024, female, 58 yr)
The vaccine, they say, like I think when we got the vaccine, the first dose, and the second dose, and we thought like, “Oh, it’s — that’s going to be it … . And again, there is another, a third dose … and again, there’s another fourth dose, so we don’t know when this is going to end. Because we still don’t know like what is happening.” (P010, female, 40 yr)
But, you know, the mis-spread of information on WhatsApp led some people to believe that this was some instrument that was being used to control the population by Bill Gates or, you know? Maybe the Western leaders … and for you to get around this, you have to get a chip, and like this chip, they would be able to monitor your activities … and that kind of raised some kind of fears among the community members. Yeah. (P025, male, 34 yr)
Well, it has really created a lot of mixed reaction … Canada, it’s supposed to be multicultural, and it’s supposed to be a country that has a choice, you make your own choice. But during COVID, I don’t think people were given that choice … they were kind of forced to take the vaccine, and they have been left with doubt … . They think the vaccine is intended to control the population, in the Black community. (P029, female, 57 yr)
Uh, well, for females, there was like okay, there was a fear of if you caught the — if you caught the virus, you know, it could affect your fertility. (P020, male, 40 yr)
Well, for starters, I think people, from my understanding, with the Africans … there was a time back then when at the point when polio was kind of rampant … so they have a fear that like some people who took the medication or the vaccinations were not able to have kids … and they think that the vaccines made them infertile, and it was a way of the West controlling them. (P025, male, 34 yr)
Okay, so the misconceptions that I can think we find in our Black communities are first of all, that like it is something that was created by White people so that they can get rid of us Black people. (P021, female, 40 yr)
Facilitators of online COVID-19 disinformation and misinformation
MiscommunicationThe absence of timely, ongoing, trusted and connected sources of information where people can go and just really understand the fullness of the, you know, the virus or the vaccines, or what’s happening in the community, in the absence of those kinds of thing, folks are — folks fill that void either with disinformation, assumptions, or, you know, general perceptions that — general perceptions or misconceptions that gets spread into the community. (P003, male, 32 yr)
Another thing about the information was that it didn’t consider how members of our communities get information. So, we like 1-on-1 … so just targeting information in the media, I think it did not — it didn’t reach members of our community. And again, we are very curious — I mean, we like to ask questions, okay? So, if you just put information out there without the means of engaging and feedback of that information, that will not help us. (P009, male, 54 yr)
Yeah, for those that have a challenge to access Internet sources, yes, we can say that there is a gap. Because it is difficult to access information, for those that are struggling to survive, and that are working for 16 hours. (P017, male, 43 yr)
But also, at the same time, we can’t really blame our community members, because a lot of the people that came here maybe came as refugees and never had the opportunity to go to school, and this is something new to them, and they have no idea of what, you know, peer — peer review is, what kind of information might be coming from a peer-reviewed source, which information’s reliable or not. They lack that, you know, that guidance. (P025, male, 34 yr)
And like I said, they — the — yes, the government is talking, but sometime today they will say A, tomorrow they will say B. After, they will say C. So, it’s like they don’t know themselves, where they are going … . Now I think people get used with that. They don’t even listen to them. So, myself, I stopped listening. (P004, male, 44 yr)
Because everybody gets information from social media on various site sources … 1 community member has some information shared on 1 platform, and it’s disseminated without verifying the source. (P020, male, 40 yr)
Cultural and religious factorsYou know, while a lot of us living here, we have directly interfaced with what is happening back home … . So that link between here and back home has also played a key factor in people’s perception, okay? … . Because the information flows not just online alone … . Because when they get something back home, they forward it to those of us who are here. And so that was also a means of misinformation, but also an opportunity for education that people didn’t recognize here. (P009, male, 54 yr)
Because even a lot of the misconceptions and the misinformation were fueled by some religious leaders who felt that the vaccine had something to do with spirituality and the anti-Christ and so many other things they practice … . And there’s some churches that even told their members not to take, and some of their members did not, you know. (P009, male, 54 yr)
A lot of us, or people of African and Caribbean or Black descent, believe in your body acquiring natural immunity, plus using natural protective, I guess, interventions, concoctions, whether it was [laughs] the famous ginger, lemon and whatever that was going around. (P030, female, 53 yr)
I’ve also interacted with community members who had mentioned to me that they have herbs that could protect you from COVID-19, and as such do not need to wear masks, or take any prevention other than those teas … . And some of the sources are not verified sources, but, you know, the community consumes a lot of the information that is gotten through social media. (P001, female, 36 yr)
Yeah, then some people also were thinking that with herbs you can kill the virus, that you don’t need to take any vaccination. (P008, male, 50 yr)
Distrust of health care systemsSo, there is a lot of broken trust between the ACB [African Caribbean Black] communities and the mainstream medical health care because of the medical history between the ACB communities and the system, the health system … . We could talk about the Tuskegee experiments … . And similarly, to look at other Black experiences in the health care that we see. (P001, female, 36 yr)
We could also talk about the mental health, you know, looking at the trauma, you know, including medical PTSDs [posttraumatic stress disorders] for those who have experienced medical racism, directly or indirectly within the health care system. (P001, female, 36 yr)
They just don’t trust. Anything that they don’t have control over, which is not much that Black people have control over it, they don’t trust it. They don’t trust the systems to me, because in their minds the systems always fail Black people, right? (P019, female, 44–54 yr)
They feel disenfranchised, or they don’t think they are part of the whole world, so to say. They feel that, you know, there’s nothing, you know, in the system for them. They also go back to lack of trust of the system, and also the medical community, and I’ve heard even one of our own saying that, “You know, we don’t trust you guys. We don’t trust you doctors because you just, you know, you are just a part of the whole conspiracy.” And then the historical perspective is very, very strong… they prefer to get their information online or they also have specific areas where they get their information from. (P024, female, 58 yr)
But once that was done, and when it came to testing, distribution of testing kits, again, we were forgotten, you know? [laughter] You know, so it was quite incomplete, because you see, when it came to vaccines, yes, we were remembered, right, and those communities were used to disseminate the information that vaccines are available. And then when it came to testing kits, that would have helped people to kind of keep them safe and — right? (P018, male, 48 yr)
Distrust of governmentsI know it sounds really hard and it sounds bizarre, but at the core of it I think is anti-Black racism. I think when you are a population that’s the most hated population, when you’re a population that faces the most disenfranchisement, when you’re a population that has, next to the Indigenous, the highest number of people in child — in the number of Black kids in childcare, when you have the highest number of Black men incarcerated, I think it’s all that. So Black people just don’t trust. (P019, female, 44–54 yr [participant provided an age range])
I think very specifically, as it relates to the vaccine and as it relates to COVID-19, I think there is a proliferation of disinformation within that community that stems from challenges related to distrust of the state, rightful distrust of the state, right? But I think that it’s kind of morphed into conspiracy theories that are unhelpful … . But nevertheless, they’ve kind of taken hold as an expression of that distrust, but I think that in the context of COVID-19, those can be really damaging and concerning (P014, male, 28 yr).
Folks were told to physically distance, but there were some folks who had to go to work and, you know, were being called heroes, et cetera. And so they would be going to work early morning on the bus, but the buses were full. Folks asked for additional buses so that they could physically distance, and the official response from the government was that they weren’t going to send more buses … . This is fertile ground not only for distrust and misinformation for some folks; it’s also fertile ground for, um … those health inequities … you know, when you parse these things out 1 by 1, disinformation or, you know, vaccination and mandates, we’re often not getting an understanding of how things coalesce or collocate to create the context in which people, like, think and act. (P003, male, 32 yr)
Like for instance, we found out that during the COVID-19 spread, yeah, there have been significant experiences of discrimination among the Black people in — in — that’s across the country. So that there was significant negative experiences in attempting to receive health care during the COVID-19 period … . So that can help them to accept misinformation if the health care system is not doing what they are supposed to do, to support their needs during a critical time of COVID-19. (P008, male, 50 yr)