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This article was published 25/1/2021 (240 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The vast majority of Canadians support stricter online regulation to force social media companies to quickly remove racist and hateful content from their platforms, according to recently released polling data.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation — a charitable organization and federal Crown corporation — released new research Monday showing 78 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the spread of hate speech online.
The polling, conducted by Abacus Data, surveyed 2,000 Canadians from Jan. 15-18, with a "margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size" of plus-or-minus 2.2. per cent "19 times out of 20."
The results were also weighted in accordance with census data, to match Canada’s population in regard to age, gender, education background and region.
The survey found 74 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the rise of right-wing extremism, and 72 per cent are worried about growing political polarization. The results also showed broad support for government measures aimed at curbing the spread of online hate speech.
Eighty per cent of respondents said they would support requiring social media companies to remove racist and hateful content from their platforms within 24 hours of it being "identified by a trusted third-party organization."
In addition, 79 per cent of respondents supported the following two initiatives: strengthening laws to hold people responsible for what they say online; mandating social media companies to inform police of "serious hate speech."
Sixty per cent said they wanted the federal government to do more to prevent the spread of racism and hatred online; 23 per cent were unsure of how they felt about that prospect; 17 per cent were opposed.
Roughly four-fifths of respondents said social media companies should remove users from their platforms who share racist or hateful content.
"The incidence of experienced or witnessed online racism, sexism, incitements of violence or homophobic comments is widespread. Almost half of Canadians report either experiencing or seeing racist comments or content online," reads the report.
"Across every item, racialized Canadians are more likely to report experiencing or seeing (such) content online. For example, racialized Canadians are more than twice as likely to report experiencing racist behaviour online than non-racialized Canadians."
The report also noted Canadians ages 18 to 29 are more likely to report witnessing such online behaviour. Nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents said online hateful and racist content is a "big problem."
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network said in a written statement it was surprised to see such strong support for measures.
"We have been fighting on the front lines of this issue for a long time, and know just how important it is to act as soon as possible. We believed that a majority of Canadians agreed with us, but to learn that it’s an overwhelming majority is very welcome news," the CAHN said.
"The government has been asking for our recommendations on addressing online hate and, with the partnership of over 30 other organizations, we gave them a game plan… We look forward to exploring the government’s proposed measures."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.