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Public Policy Forum to track online disinformation

Briefs | 11/29/2018 3:13 pm EDT

Ottawa-based think tank the Public Policy Forum says it’s launching a new project to track, analyze and eventually find a way to counter “fake news.”

It’s digital democracy project will start by studying the effects of disinformation through commissioned research and journalism in the lead-up to the next federal election, the think tank said in a press release this week. Concerns have been stirring that Canada might be a target of foreign actors when Canadians go to the polls next year.

Public Policy Forum president Edward Greenspon said his group’s previous research has shown that Canada doesn’t yet have an “adequate understanding” of online propaganda by “those seeking to divide and disorient Canadians for their own ideological, commercial or geopolitical reasons.”   

“This project is designed to expose these attempts and determine how best to counter them and propose long-term solutions,” he said in the release.

At a panel event in Ottawa last year, Greenspon said policy makers are alarmed the next election could be under attack and, while there’s a lot of information about disinformation and online propaganda in the U.S. and Britain, Canada has “no idea what’s happening” in its digital media ecosystem.

“There’s very, very little research available in Canada,” he said at the time.

The next election is expected to be called at the latest for October 21, 2019 based on the Canada Elections Act’s fixed-date provisions.

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