Technology

Most Canadians have a bitter view of Facebook

“There’s a kind of ‘I need you, but I don’t love you’ relationship, said Léger Executive Vice President Christian Bourque. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Ottawa – Most Canadians have a bitter opinion of Facebook. Half of those who responded to a recent survey say the social network should be regulated or dismantled as a “brand” crisis shakes the social media giant once again.

According to an online survey conducted by the Léger firm on behalf of the Association for Canadian Studies, 40% of respondents said they had a negative opinion of the company.

The vast majority also agreed that Facebook amplifies hate speech, helps spread false news, harms individual mental health, and poses a risk to children and adolescents.

However, more than three-quarters of those surveyed believe that the social network helps them stay in touch with their loved ones, and just over 50% of those surveyed say that it is an essential tool for sharing information, information and freedom. expression.

Conducted October 8-10, the online survey interviewed 1,545 Canadians. You cannot be given a margin of error, as online surveys are not conducted with random samples.

Leger’s executive vice president, Christian Bourque, analyzes that Canadians maintain a dependence on Facebook, but not a strong affection, as the platform faces intense public scrutiny about how its algorithms are stoking problems, inflammatory rhetoric and affect the self-esteem of the people. users.

“There’s a kind of ‘I need you, but I don’t love you’ relationship, Bourque said in an interview. Facebook really has a brand problem that the company will have to deal with. ”

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told a US Senate committee last week that the company’s products were harming children and fueling polarization in the United States, a claim supported by an internal investigation by the US company revealed. to the Wall Street Journal.

The former executive’s testimony is based on the case of a company already reeling under the weight of concerns about hate speech, the proliferation of conspiracy theories and the Cambridge Analytica data breach debacle in 2018.

“Facebook is starting to be an onion. The leaks were just one more layer, ”Bourque said.

He noted that the platform was a space where supporters of then-President Donald Trump asked citizens to storm the United States Capitol ahead of the January 6 insurgency.

“One event is never enough to destroy a business. But a series of events, then it turns into something, like a snowball, “he added.

Facebook did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

With approximately 2.9 billion monthly active users, Facebook also owns the mobile apps Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, each of which has at least 1.3 billion users.

When asked whether the conglomerate should be dismantled “to ensure healthy competition” and regulate its interactions with users, more than a quarter of those surveyed said yes. Another 23% said it should only be regulated by the government.

Only one in five respondents had a positive opinion of Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, while nearly half checked the negative box and a third said they weren’t sure.

About 87% of those surveyed believe Facebook contributes to misinformation and may harm young people, amounting to a Canadian “consensus” that reflects a similar, but slightly weaker, American finding, according to Bourque.

In federal elections last month, Liberals pledged to introduce legislation within 100 days to address online hate speech and content that incites violence.

The promise comes after the liberal minority government introduced a bill last November to regulate Facebook, YouTube and other platforms, but which failed in the Senate after the election was called.

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