Social media has revolutionized the way we consume information, and science is no exception. With just a few clicks, we can access the latest scientific breakthroughs, research findings, and discussions from experts in the field. According to a 2021 survey by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), 69% of Canadians are active on social media platforms, making it an excellent avenue for science communication.

Social media is particularly appealing to younger generations – according to a survey conducted by the Ontario Science Centre, young Canadians between the ages 18-34 have a higher tendency to use social media for staying informed about science, with 56% of them saying they follow science-related accounts. In contrast, only 44% of those over the age of 35 use social media for science news. These statistics highlight the importance of social media in science communication, particularly in engaging younger audiences.

In a recent study analyzing the use of Twitter in Canada to promote scientific research, the authors found that Twitter has become a critical platform for sharing scientific research and engaging with the public. The hashtag #scicomm is frequently used, particularly in academic circles, to promote science communication and engage with a broader audience. The use of social media for science communication has also been successful in many ways, for example by increasing the visibility of underrepresented groups in science, like women. A 2019 study published in the journal PLOS ONE analyzed the Twitter activity of over 1,600 scientists in Canada and found that women who tweeted about their research were mentioned in scientific papers more often than men who were equally qualified but tweeted less or not at all. It has also allowed for the rapid dissemination of information about emerging scientific findings and research, increasing public awareness, and promoting public engagement with science.

Another significant advantage of social media is the ability to reach beyond the academic circle. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to the trustworthiness of information sources. According to the 2021 CIRA survey, 53% of Canadians trust universities as a source of reliable scientific information, while only 23% trust social media platforms.

Unfortunately, the ease of reporting with social media has allowed misinformation to spread faster than wildfires. Social media platforms use algorithms to personalize the content that users see on their feeds. These algorithms consider users’ behavior, including what they like, comment on, and share, to determine what content to show them. While this can create a more engaging and personalized experience for users, it also has some downsides, creating echo chambers where engagement in misinformation exposes individuals to further misinformation that confirms their existing beliefs. Social media’s role in spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories became significantly prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic and has contributed to the vaccine hesitancy and public distrust of government and public health institutions. According to the Canadian Science Policy Centre’s survey, 34% of Canadians believe that the government is hiding information about the pandemic, and 37% believe it is a hoax, which may be linked to the spread of misinformation on social media. These statistics highlight the risks of using social media for science communication and the need to counter misinformation.

The vast amount of information available on social media can make it difficult to distinguish credible sources from unreliable ones. Thus, when encountering science news on social media, it is crucial to critically evaluate the source of the information. Non-scientists should take the time to consider the credentials of the individual presenting the information. If the author is not a trained scientist or expert in the field, their claims may not be accurate or reliable. Secondly, non-scientists should be cautious of sensational or exaggerated headlines that may be designed to grab attention but are not necessarily supported by underlying science. It is important to read beyond the headline and examine the content of the article or post to determine whether the claims made are supported by evidence from credible sources.

Unfortunately, according to the 2018 Canadian Science Literacy Survey, 43% of Canadians have a low level of science literacy, while 25% have a high level of science literacy. This underscores the need for clear and accurate science reporting that is accessible to all Canadians, regardless of their level of scientific knowledge.

Social media has become a valuable tool for science communication. However, it is important to recognize the potential risks of using social media, including the spread of misinformation. Non-scientists should critically seek out credible sources that are written in plain language and that provide context and background information. Scientists and science communicators should continue to leverage these platforms to engage with the public, increase awareness and understanding of science, and foster a more informed and scientifically literate society.


Pew Research Center. (2020). Americans turn to a variety of sources for science news, but many doubt their accuracy. Retrieved from

National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2016). Social media and scientific research: A look at Twitter. Retrieved from

Brossard, D. (2013). New media landscapes and the science information consumer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(Suppl 3), 14096–14101. doi:10.1073/pnas.1212744110

Canadian Internet Registration Authority (2021). Canada’s Internet Factbook 2021. Retrieved from

Kwon, D. (2020). Tweeting for science: Social media is valuable tool for Canadian scientists. University Affairs. Retrieved from

Parks, S., & Raymond, A. (2019). Science communication on Twitter in Canada: Who is tweeting about science and why? PLOS ONE, 14(4), e0215440. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0215440

Canadian Science Policy Centre (2020). COVID-19 and Science Communication: A Survey of the Canadian Public. Retrieved from

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