Bridging the New Great Divide: Reaching the ‘Persuadables’
While social media have had incalculable positive effects on democracy and human rights, the corruption of social media content and exploitation of personal and aggregate data has adversely impacted democracy on two levels: the propagation of misrepresentational content meant to influence behaviour and the doubt cast on democracy as a system as a result of that propaganda. The 2019 Canadian federal election will be a test of one country’s response to the problem.
The story is familiar now. The role Facebook (and, to some degree, Twitter) played in the United States presidential campaign of 2016 has been plumbed by a number of investigations. This includes an ongoing study by the House ethics committee in Ottawa on how users’ information is “harvested” by entities seeking to influence the next Canadian federal campaign. In the U.S., it is clear that foreign actors had access to user information that allowed them to micro-
Canadians will go to the polls in a general election on October 21, 2019. The process will be a test of Canada’s response to the social media corruption and manipulative propaganda that have tainted election outcomes elsewhere.