More Than Three Out Of Four Canadians Want Social Platforms Held Responsible for Online Hate

A total of 85.5% of racialized respondents said they feel the federal government should do more to prevent the spread of hateful and racist content.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Source: Unsplash

A new, national survey shows how Canadians feel about how to combat discrimination and hate.

Polling conducted by Nanos Research for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation found that the top four racial justice priorities for Canadians include criminal justice reform, tackling online hate, strengthening employment equity, and completing the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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The report, titled Racial Justice Priorities for Canada’s 44th Parliament, found that nearly six in ten Canadians (58%) across all age groups and regions, say that hateful and racist online content and behaviour is a major problem in Canada. Of those, 19.6% of respondents ranked addressing online hate as the top area for focus by the federal government, while 19.2% and 16.5% of respondents ranked online hate as the second and third most important problem, respectively. 

A total of 56% of Canadians say they worry more about the impact of hate speech and racism on people it harms and the impact on society overall -- double those who say they worry more about governments and social media companies being able to limit the rights of citizens to express themselves and protecting user privacy (21%).

Of the polled Canadians, 79% support the introduction of legislation that will combat serious forms of harmful online content. Canadians who identify as white and women were slightly more likely to support this than Canadians who identify as racialized individuals and men.

Source: CRRF

“A majority of Canadians agree (37%) or somewhat agree (40%) that the Federal Government should be doing more to prevent the spread of hateful and racist content and behaviour online in Canada,” the report reads, “with just over one in ten who disagree (six per cent) or somewhat disagree (seven per cent) with this.”

Just above three out of four Canadians (76%) support making social media platforms legally responsible for the removal of hateful and extremist content, and under seven in ten (68%) support requiring social media platforms to publicly provide data on the operation of their algorithms, content moderation, and more related to online safety.

Source: CRRF

More older Canadians (55 plus) support strengthening the Canada Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to better combat online hate. According to the data, overall 75% of respondents support this. 


Tackling Hatred


There is also a large amount of support from Canadians (72%) to ensure that all major cities have a dedicated hate crime unit within their local police forces, with about one in 20 who oppose this (six per cent). About seven in ten Canadians (71%) support establishing national standards for identifying and recording all hate incidents and the path they take within the judicial system. Less than one in ten (six per cent) oppose this measure. Both measures were found to have more support among men than women. 

When asked about forming a National Support Fund for the Survivors of Hate Motivated Crimes, 63% said they were in favour of the program that would provide aid in costs that may occur as a result. 

A total of 85.5% of racialized respondents said they feel the federal government should do more to prevent the spread of hateful and racist content.

When taken nationally, 71% of Canadians are “at least somewhat concerned” with rise of right wing extremism and terrorism (38% concerned, 33% somewhat), withthe most concern coming from both coasts, as BC residents said they were the  most concerned, and Atlantic Canada the second most.

“Canadians are more likely to report being concerned about the spread of hate speech online and the rise of right wing extremism and terrorism than growing political polarization,” the study said.


Policing Reform and Reconciliation 


When it comes to the subject of racial justice and police, close to six in ten Canadians (55%) support the development of a Black Canadians Justice Strategy to address anti Black racism and discrimination in the criminal justice system. Just over one in 10 of the respondents were opposed. 

When it comes to carding and street checks, 44% support banning the practice, while 18% were opposed.

Two thirds of Canadians (66%) support appointing a special federal prosecutor to pursue those responsible for harming Indigenous children in Canada’s residential school system. Less than one in ten (eight per cent) respondents opposed this action. However, under five in ten Canadians (48%) support having all governments cease court actions against residential school survivors and First Nations children. A little more than one in ten (13%) oppose this.

Almost two thirds of Canadians (63%) support fully funding the search for grave sites at former residential schools as well as 63% support for accelerating the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Around one in ten Canadians are opposed to both proposals. 



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