Majority of Canadians support crackdown on harmful content on social media: report

Seventy-seven percent of Canadians support giving the privacy commissioner new powers to safeguard data

New data shows that the majority of Canadians support a crackdown on harmful content on social media platforms.

The statistic comes from a poll commissioned by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). The results also outline that 77 percent of Canadians support the idea of giving the privacy commissioner new powers to help safeguard personal information.

“The days of the ‘anything-goes’ internet are behind us,” said CIRA CEO Byron Holland in a statement. “Hate speech, fake news, and cyber attacks are rampant, and have undermined Canadians’ trust in the open web.”

“Canadians want change, so now it’s up to all of us to help design rules that restore trust online while respecting the spirit of the open internet.”

Eighty-four percent of respondents said they support ISPs in blocking websites used to launch cyber attacks. However, half of the respondents agreed that this is an extreme measure that should only be used as a last resort.

Further, the report outlines that “while there is broad support for a new law requiring social media platforms to remove illegal or harmful content within 24 hours of it being flagged (79 percent), a majority of Canadians are concerned this could result in the removal of legitimate, lawful speech (62 percent).”

The poll found that 59 percent of Canadians support government action towards the creation of Canadian content. CIRA notes that support is strongest for requiring foreign streaming services to collect GST/HST and direct some of those funds towards Canadian content.

“While Canadians support new funding for news (58 percent), they are divided on the idea of forcing social media platforms to pay news publishers for linking to their content. Only 52 percent support the idea, and there is equal support for requiring platforms to collect GST/HST and fund news from general revenue,” CIRA notes.

The poll comes as the federal government is facing scrutiny for moving forward with the controversial Bill C-10 with promises for more legislation in the future.

The results for this report are based on a survey of 1,254 Canadian internet users aged 18 and above between February 19th and March 1st, 2021.