Majority of Canadians think Facebook will negatively impact federal election: survey
A Facebook user scrolls through the app in this undated file photo. (bombuscreative/IStock.com)
Published Monday, February 18, 2019 2:58PM EST
OTTAWA -- The majority of Canadians think that Facebook will negatively impact the next federal election, and that the social media giant doesn't do a good job at monitoring how it is used to influence politics, according to a Nanos Research survey.
Six in 10 Canadians surveyed said they are expecting Facebook to have a negative or somewhat negative impact on the next federal election, scheduled for Oct. 21.
Twenty five per cent said they think Facebook will have a negative impact and 36 per cent said it will have a somewhat negative impact on the next election. Twenty-three per cent said the impact will be average, five per cent said it'll be a somewhat positive impact and just two per cent said the social media platform will have a positive impact on the next campaign. Nine per cent were unsure.
"This feeds the broader narrative of Facebook being used by… all types of people… to influence the results in the U.S. election, the U.K. Brexit vote… and expecting that kind of turmoil to come to Canada," said Nik Nanos, founder of Nanos Research, in a recent interview on CTV News Channel.
The survey, which was commissioned by The Globe and Mail, also found that over seven in 10 Canadians think that Facebook does a poor or very poor job at monitoring how the platform is used to influence politics.
Of those surveyed, 38 per cent said Facebook does a very poor job; 33 per cent said Facebook does a poor job of monitoring; 15 per cent said Facebook does an average job keeping an eye on how the platform is used for political influence purposes; 5 per cent said Facebook does either a good or very good job; and eight per cent said they were unsure.
"When you look at the numbers it doesn’t matter whether you’re young or old or what part of the country that you live in, you basically see Facebook and you think ‘wild west’ in terms of what’s going on and Facebook not doing a very good job at monitoring its own social media ecosystem," Nanos said.
The federal government has been rolling out a series of new measures aimed at combatting a rise in disinformation and election interference in 2019, after studying how platforms like Facebook and Twitter were used during the last U.S. presidential election and in the Brexit referendum to spread fake news and sow division.
"Increasingly the interference is higher-tech… Social media have been used to falsely slander elected officials, trolls and bots are dispatched to stoke anxiety even hysteria around sensitive issues. Fake news masquerades as legitimate information," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said last month when unveiling the Liberals’ plans to further shore up Canada's electoral system.
As part of this plan, the government is calling on social media platforms to crack down on disinformation and enhance their transparency. Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould is in the process of talking to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter about their role in Canadian elections.
In 2017, Facebook released a Canadian election integrity plan that includes a "cyber hygiene guide" for MPs. It offered the most basic advice: use two-factor authentication and think before clicking anything.
The Nanos survey also found that a majority of Canadians surveyed think Facebook is untrustworthy or somewhat untrustworthy with personal data.
CTVNews.ca has reached out to Facebook Canada for comment.
These observations are based on a hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 as part of an omnibus survey.
The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.