Securing Canadian Elections: Disinformation, Computational Propaganda, Targeted Advertising and What to Expect in 2019

Published: October 2018    |    By: Samantha Bradshaw    |    Vol. 66 No. 3

Summary

The manipulation of public opinion over social media platforms is a critical concern of the 21st century. Around the world, state and non-state actors are leveraging social media to spread disinformation to voters at key moments during public life. While the cyber element of elections security has traditionally focused on securing ballot boxes or voter registration rolls, governments are increasingly concerned about the impact of harmful information on democratic outcomes. As a result, this policy brief explores the challenges pertaining to social media manipulation as they relate to Canada’s upcoming federal election. By exploring some of the global trends of social media manipulation, the policy brief also discusses domestic and foreign threats to Canada’s democracy, and provides some practical and concrete steps for industry, government and Canadian citizens to enhance both the integrity and security of the information ecosystem in Canada.

About the Authors

Samantha Bradshaw is a Senior Fellow at the Canadian International Council and a Researcher on the Computational Propaganda Project at Oxford University. She is also a D.Phil. candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute and her dissertation examines government use of social media for coordinated digital disinformation campaigns. Samantha’s work has been featured by numerous media outlets, including the Globe and Mail, Washington Post, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times. She holds an MA in global governance from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, and a joint honors BA in political science and legal studies from the University of Waterloo.