President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada Dominic LeBlanc speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. LeBlanc says there is no magic legislative bullet to control objectionable content on social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada Dominic LeBlanc speaks during a news conference in Ottawa, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. LeBlanc says there is no magic legislative bullet to control objectionable content on social media. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

No ‘magic bullet’ to solve toxic social-media content, LeBlanc says

Internet and social-media platforms must be a home for free speech

OTTAWA — There is no magic legislative bullet to control objectionable content on social media, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc says.

LeBlanc told a virtual conference on democracy Wednesday if there were a simple answer, many other western democracies would have already passed such laws. In general, LeBlanc said, he favours countering false information rather than restricting it.

The internet and social-media platforms must be a home for free speech, a critical part of any democracy, he said.

LeBlanc added that they should not be forums for hate speech, racism and disinformation.

“But at the end of the day, I don’t think citizens want governments to regulate content on the internet. That’s not at all appropriate,” he said.

“I’m not naive enough to think that there’s a simplistic answer or that some piece of legislation in this sphere is going to be a magic bullet.”

The minister was speaking at a session called “Making Technology Work for All People” at the DemocracyXChange Summit.

LeBlanc advocated educating online users, requiring social-media companies to be more transparent and publicly criticizing platforms when they fail to live up to commitments.

“Our approach has been to start with compulsory transparency,” LeBlanc said.

He pointed to a federal requirement that platforms keep a publicly accessible registry of political ads during both the electoral pre-writ and writ periods, so that Canadians can easily find out who is posting online ads.

“You can also name and shame platforms or other organizations that fail to take effective action, or fail to comply with commitments they have celebrated publicly,” LeBlanc said.

“I don’t think any large, global business wants to attach itself to very worthy objectives … and then be called out for having been completely lax or ineffective at trying to implement their own commitments.”

There are widespread concerns that everyone from hatemongers to conspiracy theorists has been able to spread dangerous messages through social media.

Facebook said this week it was updating its hate speech policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.

“Organizations that study trends in hate speech are reporting increases in online attacks against many groups worldwide, and we continue our efforts to remove it,” Facebook said.

The social media giant said it had banned more than 250 white-supremacist organizations and updated its policies to address militia groups and QAnon conspiracy spreaders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2020.

Social Media

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

Most Read