The Liberals are eyeing further government control over social media companies in an effort to combat alleged “misinformation” and “disinformation” – even though there was no threat to Canada’s democracy from online content during the election.
“We will review, reflect and assess those measures in the coming months. At this stage, it is too early to speak publicly about what those could be,” said Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould.
According to Twitter, the Canadian election faced no organized disinformation or election interference campaigns after the platform implemented new policies with regard to political advertising.
Despite no detection of foreign interference from either the government or social media companies, there were several instances where foreign entities or persons intervened or participated on Justin Trudeau’s behalf. As reported by True North, a former Clinton aide took part in organizing a fundraiser in New York City on Justin Trudeau’s behalf while the election was underway. Further, Elections Canada estimated that approximately 103,000 non-citizens were on the voter list.
Since last year, the Liberals have refused to rule out forcing social media platforms into compliance with their demands to crack down on combating “disinformation”, even threatening to temporarily shut down access to the sites in Canada. The Liberals devoted $48 million towards their efforts to monitor social media over the election period.
“We didn’t see a major network of inauthentic accounts trying to [interfere] with the outcome of the election,” said Donara Barojan, head of operations for Astroscreen, a UK company that monitored the federal election for several days in October.
According to a spokesperson for the Privy Council Office, a classified report will be made for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and an intelligence committee, who will decide whether the monitoring recommendations will become a permanent staple of Canada’s future elections. The report will not be made available to the public until next spring.
Prior to the election, the Liberal government also threatened “financial consequences” for social media giants who don’t abide by their censorship rules targeting “hate speech”. Further details were outlined in the government’s “digital charter” which Canada implemented after the New Zealand Christchurch shooting.
According to Justice Minister David Lametti, part of the government crackdown could include “using the courts, changing the criminal code, creating a regulatory body or advancing the powers of existing regulators such as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.”
While the government has set their sights on regulating social media for disinformation they have turned a blind eye to fake news spread by the mainstream media. According to a Public Policy Forum paper, Canadians who consumed traditional media were more likely to be misinformed on basic governmental policy.