NEW RESEARCH: Four in ten Canadians are exposed to online hate speech on at least a monthly basis, survey finds

Exposure to online hate and misinformation continues to persist and remains a pressing issue in Canada, particularly for those from marginalized communities.

Toronto, CANADA, March 09, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Twenty per cent of Canadians surveyed reported seeing online hate speech on a monthly basis, while 16 percent were exposed weekly. Five percent reported daily exposure.

Ten percent of Canadians reported being targets of online hate speech, and eight percent said they were targets of online harassment that caused them to fear for their safety; these proportions were approximately twice as high among Canadians who are racialized, have a disability or identify as LBGTQ2S+.

The findings are according to a new research report published by the Leadership Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University.

The report, Survey of Online Harms in Canada is based on a representative country-wide online survey conducted by the Leadership Lab research team with 2,000 residents in Canada aged 16 and older.

Among the key findings: 

Online misinformation persists. About 15 percent of respondents had a high degree of belief in misinformation about COVID-19, climate change, immigration and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This group was less likely to trust mainstream news, more likely to trust social media and use it for news, and less likely to fact check.

Use of social media as a news source is rising. From 2021 to 2022, Canadians’ use of Facebook to access news grew 8 percent and use of Instagram increased by 4 percent. At 44 percent, Instagram is the most popular news source for Canadians aged 16-29. 

Trust levels in social media platforms are steadily declining. In 2021 to 2022, trust to act in the best interest of the public fell for Twitter by 10 percent, while Facebook and Tik Tok trust scores both decreased by 9 percent. Tik Tok is the least trusted social media platform, according to the survey.

Canadians want intervention. Two-thirds of Canadians want the government to intervene to regulate social media and reduce harmful content.

“Our fourth report on this topic provides the latest evidence that online hate and misinformation continues to erode the safety and well-being of Canadians and most want our government and platforms to take action,” said Sam Andrey, report author and Director of Policy and Research at the Leadership Lab. 

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This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.


Reported sources for news and current events in Canada Trust levels in social media platforms are declining

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