Facebook. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Most Canadians would trade free social media for privacy, government action: survey

Majority of those asked thing social media is overall a positive

The vast majority of Canadians would give up free social media in exchange for more privacy and government action, a Simon Fraser University survey suggests.

The report, released Wednesday by SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, said 90 per cent of respondents would prefer their personal data be protected, rather than receiving free services.

Sixty-four per cent wanted fact checkers for online information, rather than figuring out what’s true or false themselves.

About 70 per cent said they’re worried about interference by politicians or foreign agents as the country gears up for this fall’s federal election.

Just under half of think the federal government should regulate social media platforms, while about one-quarter want them to self-regulate and 14 per cent don’t want any regulation.

“Given that we are so quick to click terms and conditions that trade away our privacy, we were surprised to learn that Canadians overwhelmingly value their personal privacy more than receiving free online services,” said the centre’s executive director Shaunna Sylvester.

When it came to hateful speech online, about 60 per cent of those surveyed supported stopping people saying harmful things and removing such content. But about 40 per cent said people should be able to say what they want and readers can decide if they want to look at it.

“There is certainly a desire to find ways to deal with harmful or hateful content that can poison civil discourse, but Canadians also support free speech,” Sylvester said. “We need to have a serious conversation in this country to navigate the tradeoffs between these deeply held values.”

Despite those conflicting views, 61 per cent of respondents said social media helps them have a voice in political discussions.

READ MORE: Voters likely to support populist leaders, Canada-first approach, survey suggests

READ MORE: Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

READ MORE: ‘Tips on steroids:’ Social media both a help, hurdle for Canadian police investigations


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