It’s a classic bait and switch; using our real frustration with toxic online behaviour as the dangling carrot, the government’s so-called ‘harmful content’ consultation will force online platforms like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter to become an unprecedented surveillance and censorship arm of law enforcement in Canada.1 The proposal reads like a wishlist of everything CSIS and the RCMP ever wanted to surveil our posts — and it puts the actual needs of victims of hate speech and harmful content online dead last.
If this proposal becomes law, vast numbers of our lawful online posts could be scrubbed from the Internet, including participation in protests, raising the alarm about graphic human rights abuses, humour and satire, consensual sexual expression, and more.
Why? Because our government’s proposed system harshly penalizes any online platform that fails to proactively detect and remove actually-illegal content within 24 hours — and all our legitimate posts will be so much collateral damage.
You can have fast content moderation, or you can have fair content moderation, but you can’t have both. And the aggressive removal algorithms and cursory human moderation the government is forcing on us in this system will be far from fair.2
Unfortunately, it gets even worse from there. The consultation proposes mandatory, automatic reporting of every single removed post directly to CSIS and the RCMP. Thinking about heading down to a controversial protest? Better not post about it — or the RCMP will know you’re on your way.3
This system isn’t fit for Canada, and our officials need to hear it. Tell our government to send this outrageous 'harmful content' proposal back to the drawing board!