Facebook Canada Details its Election Integrity Initiative

Facebook is planning to shore up their massive social media platform as a place for civic engagement.

Facebook Canada announced the Canadian Election Integrity Initiative today, a plan to ensure that the platform will be a useful place to engage in political discussion leading up to the country’s federal election in 2019.

This new initiative was created to respond directly to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) recent cyber-threat assessment report. That report dove into the potential digital threats to Canada’s democratic process through case studies, highlighting the methods attackers may utilize and possible cybersecurity preventative measures.

“We know that Facebook plays an important role in facilitating public dialogue,” says Kevin Chan, head of public policy for Facebook Canada. “That’s why we take the threats identified by the CSE very seriously and why we’re starting now to proactively address them.”

Thought the election is still a couple years away, Facebook Canada wanted to take steps ahead of time to make sure citizens are informed of possible threats as well as malicious actions meant to spread misinformation.

The entire announcement was live streamed from Ottawa this morning and featured a panel of guests from MediaSmarts, Facebook and the federal government. Check out the full stream below.

In the lead up to 2019, the first phase of this electoral integrity campaign will look to focus in on a few different areas.

Facebook Canada will form a two-year news literacy partnership with MediaSmarts called “Reality Check,” an organization that helps to promote digital and media literacy. The social media giant also released a new guide dedicated to Cyber Hygiene, meant for Canadian political parties and politicians. This will come with a training program for federal politicians as well.

Finally, a new cyber threat crisis email line for politicians and political parties is also being introduced in the event their accounts may become compromised.

“Media literacy — including the ability to evaluate — is essential in today’s digital world,” says Matthew Johnson, director of education at MediaSmarts. “More than ever we rely on online sources to be informed, engaged citizens. Knowing how to verify information effectively and share it responsibly is now not just a life skill, but a cornerstone of our democracy.”

If this Cyber Hygiene guide seems a bit bare, it is because this is only the first phase of Facebook’s effort. Naturally, this introduction would entail the basics such as account security and password protection.