©2019 by Digital Ecosystem Research Challenge.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

PROJECTS

Who Targets Me: Political Advertising in the 2019 Canadian Federal Election

Sam Andrey, Karim Bardeesy, Sam Jeffers, Clifton van der Linden

A partnership between the Ryerson Leadership Lab, Vox Pop Labs and Who Targets Me will provide an in-depth analysis and public engagement on political advertising on Facebook through the 2019 federal election. The project will recruit a panel of Canadians who will install the Who Targets Me browser extension that will help to answer pressing questions on political election advertising, including the targets, demographics, authors and content of these ads, as well as help to evaluate the effectiveness of Canada’s new political advertising regulations and Facebook’s response.

Political Parties and Data Privacy

Sara Bannerman, Nicole Goodman

The protection of individual privacy in politics is a growing concern due to a shift in campaigning that relies on “micro-targeting” of voters by the use of personal information collected by parties, purchased from commercial data brokerage firms or scraped from social media. This project asks: does awareness of parties’ collection and use of Canadians’ personal information affect Canadians’ willingness to engage with parties and campaign personnel?

Affective Media, Social Movements, and Digital Dissent: Emotions and Democratic Participation in the 'Post-Truth' Era

Megan Boler

This mixed-methods research engages sentiment analysis, discourse analysis, and interviews to study the role emotion and affect play in circulating political social media messages in the context of the 2019 Canadian election. Our specific focus is a comparison of the left and right political communications, with respect to the influence of anger, hate, fear, and disgust communicated within narratives of racial and national belonging.

The Environment and the 2019 Canadian Federal Election

Shelley Boulianne, Anders Olof Larsson

The project will examine news media, politicians, and citizens’ attention to environmental issues, such as climate change, during the 2019 Canadian Federal Election campaign. The proposed project will use a combination of survey data and digital trace.

The Quality of Online Political News and Citizens' Perceptions of Public Opinion Polls during the 2019 Canadian Campaign

Jean-François Daoust, Frédérick Bastien

Political polls are a prominent feature of news coverage of Canadian election campaigns. In this research, we examine whether the source which shares a public opinion poll (i.e., an “ordinary citizen” versus an established news organization) and the degree of sophistication of the information about the poll have an impact on (i) citizens' trust in the poll results, (ii) perception of the state of the race, and (iii) support for restrictions on publication of political polls. Our results will entail major implications to understand how citizens assess political information encountered online and the impact on some political attitudes.

The Dark Web's Impact on the 2019 Canadian Election

Greg Elmer

This online election study will focus on a set of internet platforms not commonly associated with electoral politics. Our study investigates how political memes, language, and shared political objects (videos, photos, images, graphics, posts, etc) from fringe websites become insinuated into mainstream political discourse via more established social media platforms and news properties.

White Supremacy and Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric on Twitter

Zeinab Farokhi

This research examines the use of social media (specifically Twitter) in Canadian right-wing extremist groups (RWEGs) in the lead up to and during the 2019 Canadian federal election, focusing on the role of emotion in the rise of white supremacy and anti-immigrant discourse and mobilization.

Global Media Manipulation Casebook

Nancy Gibbs, Joan Donovan

In the lead up to the Canadian elections, the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard Kennedy’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy will be documenting attempts by malicious actors to (1) polarize political issues, (2) fabricate hoaxes to sway public opinion, and (3) manipulate journalists and algorithms. By detecting and documenting manipulation and disinformation campaigns across platforms, this research will contribute to developing policies for disrupting the influence of these campaigns on election outcomes.

Online Violence and its Effects on Political Engagement on Twitter

Anatoliy Gruzd, Philip Mai, Raquel Recuero

The goal of the study is to better understand the online dynamics of violence against women and minority representatives running for political offices in Canada, with a focus on their use of Twitter, a popular communication and information platform amongst the Canadian public, politicians, and elected officials. The study will provide research-based evidence for policymakers, governing stakeholders, researchers, and social media intermediaries working on addressing current knowledge gaps and challenges associated with online violence against women and minorities. It will also help us examine the capabilities and overall effectiveness of Twitter’s platform-based guardianship (i.e., automated and human-led content moderation) and discuss current policy responses to online violence.

“Will the Revolution be in 280 Characters or Less?”: Social Media, the Changing Discourses of Democracy and the 2019 Canadian Federal Election

Asif Hameed

Social media is profoundly changing the nature of civic engagement in the contemporary era - for better or worse - providing new avenues for participatory behaviour and redefining the very discourses of democratic conduct. This study is a discourse analysis of these shifting trends, grounded on an analysis of Twitter content surrounding the 2019 Canadian Federal election.

Moral rhetoric and the socio-digital environment: The 2019 federal election

Mirielle Lalancette, Tania Gosselin

This research project aims to better understand the content and influence of the media during election campaigns through quantitative and quantitative big data style analysis applied to data from traditional, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and political memes), and surveys. By adopting the perspective offered by the Moral Foundations Theory, our study will 1) identify the uses of moral and emotional arguments by political candidates and citizens; 2) assess the impacts of this moral rhetoric on the justification of political preferences.

Water Everywhere? Digital Electoral Politics in Canada and Indigenous Water (in)Justice

Kelsey Leonard (Shinnecock Nation), Chelsea Gabel (Red River Métis from Rivers, Manitoba)

The project examines 2019 Federal Election digital media influence on electoral politics addressing Indigenous water injustices in Canada. It further aims to understand digital democracy threats (bots, trolls, misinformation, etc.) to Indigenous self-determination, water justice, and sovereignty.

Canadian Online Political Advertising Transparency

Damon McCoy

We will collect and distribute information during the upcoming election cycle that will improve the transparency of Canadian online political advertising. This will enable people to better understand the full scope of messages that candidates are distributing online.

The Great Canadian Encyclopedia of Political Memes

Fenwick McKelvey

How do political issues or opinions about leaders circulate as memes? Can we distinguish political cultures by their distinct uses of memes? Using a mixed-method approach, the project seeks to understand the role of memes in the next Federal Election.

The Attention Paid to Indigenous Issues in Twitter by Candidates in Federal Elections

Jean-François Savard, Mathieu Landriault, Christian Rock, Isabelle Caron

This project aims at understanding the determinants of Indigenous issues attention by election candidates on Twitter, with partisan affiliation and characteristics of local ridings being the most salient hypotheses. As well, we will investigate if national advocacy groups representing Indigenous people and issues are able to set the agenda and compel political parties to position themselves on Indigenous issues, and if the overall priorities of Canadians are matching with the messages posted by candidates of the main political parties.

Trolls on the Campaign Trail: How Candidates Experience and Respond to Online Abuse

Heidi Tworek, Chris Tenove

This project will investigate the abuse and incivility that candidates face online, the actors responsible, and the strategies pursued by candidates in response. The study will include a large-scale analysis of social media activity and interviews with candidates, and it will generate recommendations for platforms and political parties to help address online abuse.

Digital Media, Migration, and the Canadian Federal Election

James Walsh, Aziz Douai

This project will systematically examine Twitter communications concerning the contentious and multifaceted issue of migration during the 2019 election cycle. By assessing the themes, participants, and engagement patterns that govern online discussions, it aims to contribute to ongoing debates concerning social media's effects on democratic arrangements and sensibilities- whether it promotes social connectedness and inclusion or presents a source of tribalism and polarization.

Influence and Authenticity: Investigating Political Participation on Instagram during the 2019 Canadian Federal Election Campaign

Sabrina Wilkinson

This project uses the upcoming federal election campaign as a case study to develop a better understanding of how Canadian voters use Instagram in their civic lives. Drawing on survey data, this research will investigate, alongside other questions, how and why voters use Instagram to access and engage with political content related to the election.