Backgrounder: Government of Canada to fund projects addressing the growing problem of online mis/disinformation 

Backgrounder

GATINEAU, July 21, 2022

The Digital Citizen Contribution Program supports the priorities of the Digital Citizen Initiative by providing time-limited financial assistance for research and citizen-focused activities. The Program aims to support democracy and social cohesion in Canada by enhancing and/or supporting efforts to counter online disinformation and other online harms and threats.

The 2022–2023 special call for applications was targeted specifically to fund initiatives to help identify misinformation and disinformation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In total, 11 projects received more than $2.4 million in funding for a range of activities including educational workshops, podcast documentaries, the development of learning materials for new educational resources, and countering Russian mis/disinformation.

CIVIX

Fostering Digital Literacy and Constructive Discourse Among Youth

This comprehensive strategy includes the development of new educational resources and activities on key themes. The twin pillars of the project are digital and civic literacy, which are requirements for informed and engaged citizenship. Given the context of social fragmentation and polarization, activities will be designed to promote constructive civic discourse.

Digital Public Square

Building Resilience to Russian Mis/Dis/Malinformation in Canadian Communities

This project is a program designed to counter Russian mis/dis/malinformation in Canada related to the Ukrainian conflict and build broad resilience to such efforts that seek to undermine social cohesion. Using detection and analysis tools, DPS will begin monitoring Canada’s online information environment to rapidly identify and monitor trends in key Russian mis/dis/malinformation narratives circulating online within Canada.

Conflict and Resilience Research Institute

Project IDEa (identify, de-mystify, and empower): Countering Disinformation on Ukrainian Conflict

Project IDEa (identify, de-mystify, and empower) aims to counter the Russian disinformation campaign related to the invasion of Ukraine propagating through online social media as well as mainstream print and electronic platforms. Project IDEa has three parts: 1) analyzing and determining trends and propaganda through artificial intelligence-driven tools; 2) de-mystifying propaganda through subject matter experts by podcasts; and 3) empowering young Ukrainian diaspora through education by arranging workshops.

Apathy is Boring

Breaking Bread and Bias Pilot Project

Breaking Bread and Bias is a pilot project that will build Canadian capacity for digitally-enabled interventions. Through facilitating workshops and producing sharable content, this project will help young Canadians develop the skills to talk about and engage with disinformation, radicalization, and bias. The objectives of the project are to: 1) promote respectful, inclusive engagement and critical thinking; 2) provide de-escalation and de-radicalization strategies; and 3) increase civic literacy and increase trust in and knowledge of democratic processes.

DisinfoWatch

Cognitive Defence Awareness (CoDA) Project

This project will build greater resilience against Russian disinformation for Canadian journalists, specifically those working within ethnic media, Canada’s Russian-language media (print, radio, and television), and community leaders and stakeholder groups in the 4.5 million Canadians of Ukrainian and Central and Eastern European heritage. They will do this by developing 90-minute workshops, tailored to each of these groups to outline and explain Russian information warfare objectives, tactics, and narratives in the context of the war in Ukraine and how that threatens our own democracy.

Evidence for Democracy

Evidence Matters: Fostering a Public Language of Science in Canada

This project will deploy a Canada-wide, public knowledge and skills-based campaign to empower individuals to understand evidence and how to ask for it. The campaign will consist of two digital resource guides to: 1) equip individuals to identify and verify evidence; and 2) outline questions to empower the individual to obtain evidence from different sources, and how asking for evidence can help hold individuals, organizations, institutions and companies to account for the claims they make.

Historica Canada

Disinformation Awareness Campaign

This project will create a promotional campaign, primarily through social media and targeted email outreach, to reach Canadians who may need help turning a critical eye to the current digital landscape. Historica Canada will also create an interactive learning module focusing on the history and contribution of both Ukrainian and Russian communities in Canada.

McGill University – Max Bell School of Public Policy

Disinformed: A podcast to build Canadian resiliency to disinformation

McGill will develop and deliver a limited-run documentary podcast series focused on cultivating an understanding of and resilience to disinformation in the Canadian context while building Canadian capacity to have difficult conversations about disinformation. Each episode will include an example of a counter-intervention to disinformation, either by highlighting relevant digital literacy campaigns, social organizations, forms of “counter speech” online, fact checking, technological tools, and/or legislative efforts that have shown promise and success in countering specific forms of disinformation and can be paralleled in a Canadian context.

MediaSmarts

Break the Fake 2022: Empowering Canadians to counter disinformation

This project consists of a social marketing campaign that features educational videos with supporting material. The topics of the videos are: 1) Critical thinking and intellectual humility; 2) Propaganda and hate speech; and 3) Responding to mis/disinformation. Content will be in the vein of MediaSmarts’ successful Break the Fake campaign and will promote actions and attitudes essential to recognizing and responding to misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda

Concordia University – Project Someone

Developing Diverse Canadian Stakeholders’ Critical Digital Literacy to Counter Disinformation and Build Resilience Against Social Polarisations: Adapting and Evaluating the Bilingual “From Hate To Hope” Open Online Course.

In the fall of 2022, Concordia University will offer a freely available, six-week bilingual “From Hate to Hope” (H2H) open online course to equip a cross-section of Canadian citizens with improved digital media literacy, as well as resilience against disinformation and hate speech in the context of a highly polarized era.

Leadership Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University (Formerly Ryerson – Leadership Lab)

Promoting Platform Change in Canada

This project will promote positive change in the online platforms that Canadians are increasingly using to communicate, share, and consume news and information by enabling: 1) an up-to-date report that surveys Canadians’ use of online social platforms, its relationship to experience of online harms and belief in disinformation, and attitudes toward making changes to online platforms; 2) engagement with civil society, platform and government stakeholders, and the public at large to promote positive change in online platforms, including an event, video content, and multilingual infographics; and 3) direct engagement and advocacy with online platforms to promote change in platform design toward positive democratic outcomes, including advancing tools to help users contextualize what they see online.

Contacts

For more information (media only), please contact:

Laura Scaffidi
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
laura.scaffidi@pch.gc.ca

Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities
343-574-8116
jean-sebastien.comeau@iga-aig.gc.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
media@pch.gc.ca

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