Ahead of Canada’s October election, Microsoft Corp and Facebook Inc. say they will help curb internet excesses to tighten security. Both companies have agreed to do more to crack down on bots and take down fake accounts geared towards the election.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had complained last month about the negligence of the world’s major social media companies. He said they were not doing enough to combat potential foreign meddling, much that Ottawa would have to intervene.
Minister Karina Gould told the legislators that both tech companies have made commitments to ensure electoral integrity. Both firms have agreed work harder to ward off disinformation, fake news, and crack down on counterfeit accounts and bots.
“The Wild west online era cannot continue-inaction is not an option. Disinformation must not stand…The malicious, multi-faceted and ever evolving tactic constitute a serious strategic threat,” said Girould, emphasising the threat to clampdown on the firms if possible.
The government officials worry about Russian interference via counterfeit accounts which would be used to alter voters’ decisions. In a clear reference to Twitter and Google, she requested that they do their bit to ensure a secure internet void of misinformation. “I urge other platforms to follow suit in the coming days,” she said.
Pertinent to note, is the fact that Facebook and Microsoft agreed to stiffen security in a “voluntary declaration”, not bound by any law. How then does she intend to ensure compliance by the tech companies? She believes that the keen interest of the political parties, media and public would hold the platforms accountable.
“I think they have an absolute interest to be good actors in the Canadian democratic space, and if that is not the case then we will be coming back with stronger regulatory reforms,” she said.
Zuckerberg, last year admitted to having proofs of Russia attempting to influence the election using social media. The executives at Facebook outlined a calculated misinformation campaign launched by Russian agents on the social network. In a similar vein, the data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trumps’s election team harvested about 50 million users’ data to build a powerful software program to influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.
Apparently, the Canadian security service fear for a similar incident which may favour the opposition. According to Reuters, the security services in Canada worry about a potential weakness in political parties’ cyber networks. The polls currently suggest that the liberals could lose the election to the opposition.