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Many Canadians worried about how social media could influence outcome of fall federal election: poll

Last Updated May 10, 2019 at 11:29 am PST

(iStock Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With the fall federal vote just several months away, a new poll finds Canadians are increasingly worried about social media influence on the outcome.

“There’s significant concern,” Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, explained. “We have seven-in-10 who are concerned about the overall influence in voting decisions, and eight-in-10 say it will directly impact who gets elected in this country.”

He adds the survey also found many respondents — 62 per cent — believe political parties will use sites like Facebook and Twitter to influence the vote.

Even more people — 74 per cent — are worried about election influence from special interest and partisan groups using social media.

“But the number that jumps out at me is the fact that 71 per cent are worried that other countries and foreign governments are using social media or could use social media to influence the election outcome here.”

Of that number, Mossop said 44 per cent described themselves as being “very worried,” while just 27 per cent said they were “somewhat worried.”

Insights West attributes the worry among Canadians, in part, to the “years-long” debate as well as media coverage of, in particular, concerns of foreign meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

According to survey results, baby boomers tend to be more concerned than any other age group about potential social media influence.

“The concern is universal across age groups, it does go a little bit higher with baby boomers, but age and gender and region — it’s fairly similar across the country,” Mossop said. “The one that does jump out is that Liberal voters, or at least past-Liberal voters and past-NDP voters are much more concerned than Conservative voters to the tune of 20 — sometimes 30 — points.”

Meantime, sixty per cent of Canadians believe social media will have no influence on their own decision come October.

While there is concern expressed by Canadians about the impacts of social media, Mossop notes they’re actually using it.

“When you look at the number of people who are actually posting political views and liking political views, reading about it, it’s about 36 per cent of Canadians do so on a daily basis and 76 per cent do that on a monthly basis.”