Rebuilding the Public Square
Rebuilding the Public Square is a national comprehensive study that aims to examine what is driving Canada apart online and how we can bring people back together.
Misinformation is rapidly spreading yet more and more Canadians are turning to social media platforms as their primary source for news and information. These platforms have provided Canadians with new tools to engage with each other and public affairs, but the digital environment has influenced the nature of this engagement in ways that are not yet fully understood.
Rebuilding the Public Square is investigating the issues facing Canadians in the digital world, offer potential solutions to guide policy-making, and give Canadians the tools they need to rebuild trust in our digital public square and ensure that these platforms have a positive impact on our society.
Through mixed method research of qualitative focus groups and a comprehensive nationally-representative survey of 3,000 Canadians, Rebuilding the Public Square will address three important issues as it relates to the digital public square:
Digital News Literacy
Effects on Political Attitudes, Behaviours and Polarization
Attitudes toward Regulation of Social Media Platforms
We are dedicated to getting our findings into the hands of Canadians and using them to inform the development of digital literacy tools and training in partnership with the Democratic Engagement Exchange. The project will aim to activate new leaders and rebuild trust in institutions by creating opportunities that will make the findings accessible to a wide range of various communities through:
convening forums for established and new leaders to engage with and debate how best to rebuild the public square online
developing and sharing online and print multilingual materials and tools for digital and civic literacy, including how to spot “fake news” and be an effective and engaged digital citizen
providing training, marketing, and support to over 400 national, regional and local community-based organizations to adopt these tools in their civic engagement work
evaluate impact on Canadians’ attitudes and behaviours accessing these tools
This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.