In the last couple of years, Britain, France and the United States have experienced cyber meddling in their elections. Yet in Canada, Tim Harper writes, "there is a puzzling, laissez-faire approach from our governments, which seem to find comfort in studies that show the remnants of the mainstream media hold greater levels of trust here than their peers in other countries."
There is much we can learn about how to counter what's been going on. Europe has given us some remedies:
All major parties in Germany agreed before last year’s parliamentary elections there that they would not use social media bots and would strongly condemn their use.
They also passed a law providing penalties of up to $60 million for social networking providers who did not quickly take down defamatory or fake news reports.
An Oxford University study found only a tiny fraction of social media election traffic came from automated accounts, overwhelmingly from the far right anti-immigration party.
Further, German social media users shared links to professional news sources over junk news sources by a ratio of 4:1, a much higher rate than the researchers found in the U.S. or U.K. elections.
Bots do have their uses:
Indeed, banning them may be going too far because not all bots are evil. Parties can use bots to amplify policy announcements, for example.
But we're fools if we believe they should not be regulated. The manipulators are everywhere. And they think we're stupid.