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COLUMN: Considering rugs and accurate information

Fact-checking services and observations can help prevent the spread of misinformation
The Ontario legislature in Toronto is not the same as the House of Commons in Ottawa. (

The colour of the rug didn’t look right.

I noticed it while watching a video someone had shared with me. The video on my screen was supposed to show an important and current debate from the House of Commons, and the outcome was supposed to have chilling implications. At least that’s the way it had been billed. It was presented as the proof of a nefarious government scheme.

I started watching the video, but within a couple of minutes, I stopped.

There was something wrong about the space in which the discussion was happening.

At first glance, the room looked similar to Canada’s House of Commons, but some details were off. The carpet was the wrong colour and the proportions of the room were not the same as in any other images I have seen from that chamber.

The names of the politicians in this video were not familiar to me. It turned out the scene was not from the House of Commons but from the Ontario legislature.

I re-watched a portion of the video and realized the discussion had nothing to do with a policy from the federal government. It was an issue that affected people in Ontario, but it was not worthy of the urgency I had been told I would see.

In short, this was a waste of my time. The sky wasn’t falling. The world wasn’t ending. And the House of Commons hadn’t been redecorated.

Why had this video been shared with me?

The person who alerted me to it had been directed to it by one of his friends — someone he respected and trusted. Unfortunately, neither one had taken the time to do a bit of fact-checking before passing it on to me.

This video wasn’t the first time someone had shown me the content of questionable accuracy, and it won’t be the last either.

There have been plenty of health claims and miracle cures, as well as investment scams circulating over the years. These will not go away any time soon.

Sometimes, information is exaggerated to generate a strong response for or against a certain course of action. This can result in a relatively benign issue turning into a significant point of conflict.

In the past few years, some of the misinformation has become more sophisticated. Sometimes, the check will involve more than simply noticing the rug and the walls in a room.

There are sources including the Canadian-based, AFP Fact Check at, and from the U.S.-based Poynter Institute. It’s also possible to run a few keywords through a search engine to determine whether there is information from more than one source.

These tools and other fact-checking methods can help ensure people have accurate and reliable information.

At the same time, looking at fact-checking sites can be disheartening. Disinformation is not a rare occurrence. New examples show up daily.

The fact that such tools are needed is cause for concern.

I want to know the information I see is trustworthy, without waiting until I can do a fact-check on my own. I want to know I can trust the people around me.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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