Ninety-three percent of Canadians are concerned by online hate speech and racism, according to a survey conducted recently by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Abacus Data.
Nearly half (49%) of the respondents questioned in the survey stated that hateful content is a very serious problem, and more than four in ten (42%) of respondents said they have witnessed such content or comments.
“We are alarmed by the results of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation poll showing that nearly half of Canadians have seen or experienced online comments or content that incites violence. Like the overwhelming majority of those surveyed, we are deeply concerned and unsettled by the rise of online hate and racism in Canada. Canadian Jews hold the unfortunate distinction of being the most frequently targeted minority when it comes to hate crime, and we understand all too well the deadly real-world consequences of this frightening phenomenon,” said Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) Vice-President, External Affairs & General Counsel, Richard Marceau. “The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs has been at forefront of efforts urging the federal government to adopt a national strategy to combat online hate. This poll only confirms the urgency for the federal government to act quickly and decisively on online hate in Canada.”
The survey also found that respondents favor regulation on online platforms to prevent hateful content. Sixty percent of respondents believe the federal government should play a role in preventing hateful content online. Moreover, 78 percent of respondents agreed that in addition to government regulation, social media companies should take action to remove users who share hateful content. Similarly, 79 percent supported the implementation of laws to hold users accountable for the content they share online.
In an op-ed published in the Toronto Star Marceau outlined steps to combat the rise of online hate crimes. Referencing the current pandemic, he wrote, “Like the coronavirus, online hate has exploited weaknesses in our society to the detriment of all. As our lives continue to migrate online, the very platforms that proved to be a lifeline in so many ways also served as a springboard for spreading vicious hatred.”