CIRA survey finds Canadians concerned fake news could affect federal election outcome

A survey conducted by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) indicates that 70 per cent of Canadians are concerned that fake news could affect the outcome of this year’s federal election, with the majority in favour of government fines for social media companies that don’t take measures to remove fake news from their platforms.

Released Tuesday, the CIRA report takes the temperature of Canadians on the internet and fake news, privacy, cybersecurity and access. Based on a survey of over 1,200 Canadian internet users in December, it highlights areas of concern, including apprehension around the upcoming Canadian federal election.

The survey found that traditional media sources, including newspapers, TV broadcasters and radio remain among the most trusted sources of information/news in Canada. 75 per cent of those surveyed said they have encountered fake news, with 57 per cent reporting they’d been taken in by a fake news item. While eight in 10 Canadians are confident in their ability to recognize fake news stories online, just one quarter are very confident.

The report concludes that Canadians must be better skilled at recognizing fake news online  and to accomplish that more investment in digital and media literacy is required. 83 per cent of respondents believe public schools should be teaching more media literacy skills. 68 per cent of those surveyed believe media outlets and broadcasters have a key role to play in countering fake news that is spread online.

“With a federal election around the corner, fake news is a real concern and Canadians agree,” said David Fowler, CIRA’s vice president of marketing and communications and vice-chair of Ottawa-based digital literacy organization MediaSmarts. “Canadians see social media companies, the government and journalists as key players to halt misinformation online. But citizens themselves have a role to play and increased investments in media literacy will help Canadians spot fake news and thereby thwart its influence.”

The report also finds that Canadians need to grow their knowledge of cybersecurity,
including spotting and evading personal attacks, such as phishing emails. Survey respondents said they’d be willing to pay more for online products and services that
protect their data/personal information. Six in 10 Canadian internet users (63 per cent) said they value privacy over convenience with only seven per cent saying convenience was more important to them. 87 per cent of those surveyed said they were concerned about a potential cyberattack exposing their personal data, with just 19 per cent indicating they would continue to do business with an organization if their personal data was breached.