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Help Stop Fake News Super spreaders

It sounds like a contradiction but it’s true: Fake news has become a fact.. of life. And, despite all the warnings and counterattacks, it’s getting worse. People, either thoughtlessly or maliciously, are passing on bogus news and doctored photos at a record rate.

Technical experts are trying to create artificial intelligence (AI) formulas to detect and remove it. Meanwhile, organizations from political groups to academics are getting seriously worried.

Psychologists want to understand why we do fall for fake news and pass it to others. As with contagious diseases, security experts are starting to talk about misinformation “superspreaders” — people who unhesitatingly post and forward messages to hundreds of other friends and online followers.

A massive 86 percent of us admit to falling for fake news at one time or another. And research shows that in any single year, around half of us believe in one or more conspiracy theories.

Yet, the vast majority of us — 83 percent — say they’re worried about myths, misinformation, and fake news. We know from hard experience — such as people swallowing unsafe “curatives” — that it can be downright dangerous.

We also know that if a report or post aligns with our own opinions, we’re more likely both to believe it (a tendency called “confirmation bias”) and then to pass it on without question.

Social media sites take the crown for being the riskiest sources for the circulation of fake news and conspiracy theories because of the sheer number of people who use them. That’s where the superspreaders lurk.

Even if you’re not a fake news spreader yourself, you can play an important role in helping to stem the tide of misinformation. You’ll almost certainly know of others who do forward fake reports and claims, maybe among family or friends.

Here are 5 tips for helping others who fall into the fake news trap from the freedom-of-expression organization PEN America:

Try to check and verify something you suspect is fake news before engaging with people you know who are passing it around.

Think carefully before commenting publicly on a fake item. It may help others, but it could also misfire by raising the visibility of the fake news or opening a damaging debate.

Be sensitive to how spreaders might react. It can be embarrassing to be “caught out” passing. Try to imagine their perspective. Be positive and supportive when you open a discussion. Don’t ridicule them.

If they react badly or defensively, don’t pursue or escalate the discussion. Explain how they can fact-check. And get in the habit of providing sources when you pass information to them.

Try to help educate them. Pass on information and tips on spotting and avoiding fake news and let them know you’re a resource — available to help if they’re uncertain whether something is true or not.

Improve Your Own Behavior

And here are a few more things you can do to improve your own understanding and behavior when dealing with potential fake news:

Be honest. When you present or report on a topic, stick to known and checkable facts and, if you can, give the source. If you believe something to be true but can’t verify it, make that clear when you relate it to someone else. Research also shows that by presenting the true facts first, people are less likely to believe subsequent reports that say otherwise. This is known as “prebunking.”

Read the experts. Dozens of academic experts in the field have also produced a “Debunking Handbook” to help people avoid spreading misinformation It’s a bit scholarly, approaching the subject from a scientific and research perspective. But there are some useful tips — and it’s free! Download a pdf version here: https://tinyurl.com/scambusters-210523-1

Also check our previous Scambusters’ reports on how to identify and avoid fake news and other related scams. Start here: https://scambusters.org/?s=fake+news

Alert of the Week

If you trade or are interested in cybercurrency, you’ll almost certainly know how turbulent the market has been in recent weeks.

People have made and lost fortunes, but not just by following an investment strategy. Many have also been scammed.

According to new figures, scams involving Bitcoin and other virtual currencies have leapt 1,000 percent in the past year, costing Americans at least $80 million.

Alarmingly, the statistics show that young adults, in their 20s and 30s, have lost more from crypto scams than they have from any other type of fraud!

Don’t join the tens of thousands of victims. Check out previous Scambusters reports on the topic here: https://tinyurl.com/scambusters-210523-2.  There’s also a useful guide from Coinbase, one of the leading crypto trading exchanges, here: https://tinyurl.com/scambusters-210523-3

By Scambuster Keith


(SPRINGWATER TWP)  On June 6th, 2021 members of the Huronia West OPP and Springwater Fire Department were called to rescue an adult and two children from the Minesing Wetlands in Springwater Twp. 

Emergency services received a call just after 6pm of 3 adults and 2 children canoeing in the wetlands and in need of help. The paddlers had run out of water and had minimal cellphone power. 

A father and his two children were plucked from the Wetlands with the assistance of the OPP Helicopter. Two other adult males declined assistance and advised they were experienced outdoorsmen. All involved parties are now safe and without injury.      

This incident serves as a reminder of several safety considerations;  

Have a plan and make sure somebody knows about it 

 Pack appropriate survival supplies including food, water, a charged cell phone and other items incident dependant.

 Always wear a life jacket

 Ensure you have the required safety equipment on board

 Check the weather and water temperature before you head out

 The OPP remains committed to saving lives on Ontario roads, trails and waterways.

OPP Marine Unit Patrolling Beckwith and Giant’s Tomb Islands Again this Marine Season

(TINY TOWNSHIP, On)- Uniform officers assigned to the Southern Georgian Bay detachment Marine Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have again in this 2021 marine season been focusing some of their patrol time to the Islands of Beckwith and Giant’s Tomb as well as the greater Tiny Township shoreline . Officers will be vigilant for impaired and liquor related infractions but also for lifejacket and equipment offences on smaller self propelled vessels while on the very large expanses of the waters of Georgian Bay which are still very chilly at this time of year.

During the week of May 31-June 3, 2021, detachment marine officers checked 22 vessels and operators with one operator providing a breath sample into the Roadside Screening Device (ASD) during their 24 hours of patrol time. Three persons were cited for failing to have sufficient lifejackets on board, one operator was cited for liquor violations along with two other persons for infractions contrary to other Provincial Acts.

With the number of new boating enthusiasts over the last few years, officers will be trying to educate operators about Canadian-approved lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD)’s and to be cold water aware while boating on Georgian Bay and the surrounding waterways this spring.


(ORILLIA, ON) – The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Child Sexual Exploitation Unit (CSEU) has charged an Orillia resident with Child Pornography offences.

  On June 4, 2021, members of the CSEU, OPP Digital Forensics and Orillia OPP Detachment members executed a search warrant at a residence in Orillia, following an investigation into information received from the National Child Exploitation Crime Center (NCECC).  Police seized digital devices for further examination.

58-year old Gregory LASSETER of Orillia was arrested and charged under the Criminal Code with:

Possession of Child Pornography

Making Child Pornography Available

 The accused was held for a video bail hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice in Barrie.  

  Police encourage anyone wanting to make a difference in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children, to go to www.protectchildren.ca and download the “Child Sexual Abuse-It Is Your Business” brochure from the Canadian Center for Child Protection. This is an important first step that can save a child. 

Parents are reminded to take a proactive approach to help protect their children from online sexual exploitation by speaking with their children regarding Internet safety. Parents and anyone interested in protecting children can find resources to assist them at www.cybertip.ca.

Anyone with information regarding this investigation, or if you have information regarding Internet child exploitation, please contact the OPP at . If you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers at (TIPS) or 1-800-222-8477 www.ontariocrimestoppers.ca.  Reporting information may also be made on the internet through www.cybertip.ca. 1-888-310-1122.


(CLEARVIEW TWP, ON) On May 2&th, 2021 members of the Huronia West OPP were called to investigate the damage of several bird houses located at a community eco-park in Stayner. 

During the early stages of the investigation police believe the bird houses may have been intentionally destroyed with fireworks. Some of the bird houses appeared to be inhabited at the time of the mischief. It’s believed the damage occurred over the May long weekend. 

Huronia West OPP are asking anyone with information in relation to this case to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can also submit your Crime Stoppers information online at www.p3tips.com.

OPP Officers Provide Speeding Enforcement to Community Speeding and Traffic Complaint Areas

(MIDLAND, On)- During the month of May 2021, uniform officers from the Southern Georgian Bay detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have responded to public complaints of motorists and commercial vehicles speeding and other related traffic violations on area roadways. Calls to the OPP Communications Centre and through the OPP Online Reporting have been recorded and acted upon as follows-

Officers attended 41 complaint areas and issued 463 tickets and warned 243 drivers for their driving infractions.

102 hours of focused patrol in these noted areas

Officers also provided 13 hours of R.I.D.E. check stops at 19 locations checking 568 vehicles for signs of impairment.

Speeding along with other offences under the Highway Traffic Act carry licence suspensions, some of which are issued on the spot along with automatic vehicle impoundment.

Recently, officers encountered the following stunt driving (50km/hr over the posted limit) incidents resulting in (ADLS) suspensions and vehicle impounds.

May 25, 2021 66 year old Midland driver stopped, charged and suspended for the offence of Speeding- 143 km/hr in an 40 km/hr construction zone along Simcoe County Road 93, Midland.

May 22, 2021 20 year old Burlington driver stopped on Highway 400, Georgian Bay Township for the offence of Speeding- 159 km/hr in an 100 km/hr zone and was charged and drivers licence seized.

May 12, 2021 37 year old Barrie driver stopped on Old Fort Road, Tay Township for the offence of Speeding- 133 km/hr in an 80 km/hr zone and was charged and drivers licence seized.

June 2, 2021 38 year old Wasaga Beach driver was stopped and charged for the offence of Speeding – 125 km/hr in an 60 km/hr zone, No Insurance and Drive while under Suspension on Baseline Road, Tiny Township

For more information on drivers licence suspensions please click on the following Ministry of Transportation link- (ADLS).

Drivers are reminded that several roadway construction projects in the North Simcoe area are underway and should allow extra driving time for possible interruptions. Officers are patrolling alternate back road routes to address community speeding complaints on area roadways such as- Fuller Avenue in Penetanguishene and Wilson and Marshall Roads in Tiny Township


(WASAGA BEACH, ON) Just after midnight on June 6th, 2021 members of the Huronia West OPP responded to a report of a robbery on the boardwalk in front of Beach Area 2. 

The victim(s) got into a verbal argument with another group of people. During the argument, it is alleged that one of the suspects brandished a handgun. One of the victims was forced to withdraw cash from a nearby ATM machine. 2 cellphones and a wallet were also stolen.

 Police conducted a search of the area following the incident with negative results.  Police are now looking to identify 5 suspects, described as; 

  Black male approx. 6’4” tall – very skinny with chin-  

  length dreadlocks and Jamaican accent

  Black male, approx. 6’3” tall – skinny, wearing a ski 

  mask, black shirt

  Black male, approx. 6’ tall, white t-shirt, short hair, 

  Jamaican accent

  Black male, ski mask, skinny, 5’6”.

  Black female, 5’5”, dark crop top, jean shorts, slim, 

  long shoulder-length hair

The suspects were last seen leaving the area in a dark coloured four-door sedan. 

  Huronia West OPP are asking anyone with information in relation to this case to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). You can also submit your information online at www.p3tips.com.