A strong democracy relies on Canadians having access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information so that they can form opinions, hold governments and individuals to account and participate in public debate. In response to the increase in false, misleading and inflammatory disinformation published online and through social media, the Government of Canada has made it a priority to help equip citizens with the tools and skills needed to critically assess online information.
Digital Citizen Initiative
The Digital Citizen Initiative is a multi-component strategy that aims to support democracy and social cohesion in Canada by building citizen resilience against online disinformation and building partnerships to support a healthy information ecosystem.
This initiative supports Citizen-focused activities, including digital, news and civic literacy programming and tools. The activities will engage a broad range of Canadian audiences, including youth and adults, in both official languages. Examples include funding to support training sessions, awareness-raising activities, and tools to help Canadians:
- critically assess online reporting and digital media;
- understand how algorithms work and when they might impact a user’s online experience;
- know how and when malicious actors exploit online platforms and other Internet technology;
- acquire skills on how to avoid being susceptible to manipulation online; and/or
- effectively engage in public debate online.
Digital Citizen Initiative funding for the Citizen-focused activities was delivered through the following programs:
A list of the funded activities, including recipients, funding amounts and project descriptions, is available in the backgrounder Helping citizens critically assess and become resilient against harmful online disinformation.
Digital Citizen Research Program
The Digital Citizen Research Program focusses on helping Canadians understand online disinformation and its impact on Canadian society, and building the evidence base to identify possible actions and future policy-making in this space. This program compliments the multistakeholder International Engagement Strategy aiming to establish consensus and develop guiding principles for the diversity of content online in order to reinforce democratic and citizen resilience.
The Program has 3 components:
- Digital Citizen Contribution Program (details to follow)
- Joint Initiative for Digital Citizen Research
- Support to the Public Policy Forum’s Digital Democracy Project
Canadian Heritage will support the Public Policy Forum’s Digital Democracy Project, which brings together academics, civil society, and policy professionals to support research and policy development on disinformation and online harms.
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