Canada launches online resource to combat electoral misinformation, disinformation


ELECTIONS Canada has launched ‘ElectoFacts‘, a new resource aimed at helping voters spot misinformation and disinformation about the electoral process in Canada.

Elections Canada is responsible for running federal elections, by-elections and referenda. Its mission is to make sure that Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote and to be a candidate.

It is an independent, non-partisan agency created by the Canadian Parliament in 1920 to ensure fairness in federal elections.

According to a blog post published on the ElectoFacts website, the online resource is designed to debunk common misconceptions and provide factual information about the electoral process in Canada.

It is a step taken by the Canadian authorities to maintain the integrity of the country’s democratic system amidst the growing concern about disinformation.

“ElectoFacts is a resource that Canadian electors can use to easily check whether information they come across about Canada’s federal electoral process is true or not. ElectoFacts also offers information on how federal elections are run and the safeguards in place to protect them,” the post reads. 

The agency said that it does not intend to establish Elections Canada as “the arbiter of truth” that will actively monitor the accuracy of statements and information distributed by parties and candidates. 

The agency said it will instead focus on providing correct information about elections that Canadians can easily access. 

Users of  ElectoFacts can scroll through eight categories where disinformation may likely occur which include special ballots, way to vote, counting process, voting technology, foreign interference in elections, the administration of elections, the administration of Elections Canada and campaign finance.

Each category displays the “inaccurate information observed” with an accompanying and detailed explanation of what is accurate. 

According to CBC News, the Director of the Canadian Election Misinformation Project, Aengus Bridgman said the 2016 election in the United States, which saw an aggressive and unprecedented Russian disinformation campaign, raised alarm bells in the West over the threat to democracy.

“If our election results are later shown to have been the result of a disinformation campaign that was decisive in an election, it would cause an enormous diplomatic and constitutional crisis,” he said.

Bridgman said it is important to get the right information out there, proactively, where people can access it before the election disinformation begins to spread, because once false information has spread and gained traction, it is much harder to counter. 

He added that Canadians can also help to fight disinformation in their everyday lives by resisting the temptation to cut family, friends and neighbours off and push them out of their lives if they start espousing views based on disinformation. 

“Keeping lines of conversation open is incredibly important,” he said, adding that “One of the things that can happen is that people can join [disinformation] communities and drive their real physical committees away, and then they become isolated and … that becomes very dangerous.”

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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