Category: analyses

The causes and consequences of COVID-19 misperceptions: Understanding the role of news and social media

We investigate the relationship between media consumption, misinformation, and important attitudes and behaviours during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We find that comparatively more misinformation circulates on Twitter, while news media tends to reinforce public health recommendations like social distancing. We find that exposure to social media is associated with misperceptions regarding basic facts about COVID-19 while the inverse is true...

Canada’s proposed contact-tracing app takes the right approach on privacy

I published an op-ed in the Globe and Mail taking a look at the announced Canadian government supported phone app COVID Alert, privacy concerns and potential benefits. Across Canada, people are taking measures to protect the rest of society: maintaining safe distances while waiting in line for stores, wearing masks and working from home. In a progressive society such as...

All in this together: deservingness of government aid during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented pressure on governments to engage in widespread cash transfers directly to citizens to help mitigate economic losses. These programs are major redistribution efforts aimed at a variety of sub-groups within society (the unemployed, those with children, those with pre-existing health conditions, etc.) and there has been remarkably little resistance to these government outlays. We...

Evaluation questions to assess a digital contact tracing/exposure notification application

TIP – Tech Informed Policy has released its first briefing, the purpose of which is to provide a framework and approach for evaluating proposals for Bluetooth exposure notification (EN) and contact tracing (CT) applications. The briefing provides guiding evaluative questions which are partitioned into two key themes: privacy and security, and adoptability and implementation. The proposed questions serve as a...

Anti-intellectualism and Information Preferences during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitates widespread voluntary and sustained public compliance with expert-guided public health directives, like social or physical distancing. Understanding which citizens seek out and engage with expert messages regarding COVID-19 is thus of central importance. Anti-intellectualism – the generalized distrust of experts and intellectuals – is likely to be a dominant factor. This note presents the results of...

Digital Democracy Project: Research Memo #7 The Partisan Playground

Research Memo #7 has been released. One of the goals of the Digital Democracy Project has been to track the digital media environment in order to identify potential threats to Canadian democracy. Our previous reports have shown that social media does not likely contribute to political polarization in Canada, and that Canadians generally trust the traditional news media, with even...

Digital Democracy Project: Research Memo #6

Research Memo #6 is live. The Cambridge Analytica scandal shed light on the ways social media advertising could potentially be used to influence electoral outcomes. With traditional advertising, political campaigns can only reach broad audiences —such as newspaper subscribers, or viewers of a certain television show—and their spending is strictly regulated. But with social media advertisements, political parties and their...

Digital Democracy Project: Research Memo #4 Talking Past Each Other on Immigration

The fourth memo has been released. Since the Digital Democracy Project began surveying Canadians earlier this summer, immigration has consistently ranked around the middle of the list of political issues of concern to the public. Canada has a long history of embracing immigrants and refugees, but with rising populist and nativist sentiment in the United States and Europe—and the emergence...