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Fake News (a.k.a. Disinformation) in Canada

Fake news is falsified information created with the intent of misleading people. It aims to shape public opinion by eliciting an emotional and biased response that is divorced from facts but in alignment with a particular ideology or perspective. Fake news can effectively weaponize information. It uses disinformation, misinformation or mal-information to demonize or damage a political foe, or to sow confusion and mistrust among the public. Fake news came to the fore of public consciousness during and immediately after the 2016 US presidential election, though its origins date back much further.

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Media Literacy

Media literacy refers to the ability to interpret and understand how various forms of media operate, and the impact those media can have on one’s perspective on people, events or issues. To be media literate is to understand that media are constructions, that audiences negotiate meaning, that all media have commercial, social and political implications, and that the content of media depends in part on the nature of the medium. Media literacy involves thinking critically and actively deconstructing the media one consumes. It also involves understanding one’s role as a consumer and creator of media and understanding the ways in which governments regulate media.

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Computers and Canadian Society

Canadians use computers in many aspects of their daily lives. Eighty-four per cent of Canadian families have a computer in the home, and many people rely on these devices for work and education. Nearly everyone under the age of 45 uses a computer every day, including mobile phones that are as capable as a laptop or tablet computer. With the widespread use of networked computers facilitated by the Internet, Canadians can purchase products, do their banking, make reservations, share and consume media, communicate and perform many other tasks online. Advancements in computer technologies such as cloud computing, social media, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are having a significant impact on Canadian society. While these and other uses of computers offer many benefits, they also present societal challenges related to Internet connectivity, the digital divide, privacy and crime.

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Canada and the Digital Economy

The digital economy is the economic activity conducted through digital technologies such as the Internet. It is also called the Internet economy, the new economy or the web economy. Many scholars see the digital economy as the fourth industrial revolution. As of 2013, it consumed approximately 10 per cent of the world’s electricity. Many of the world’s biggest companies operate in the digital economy. A growing number of Canadians depend on it for their livelihood. In 2017, nearly 5 per cent of all jobs in Canada were in the digital economy. The gross domestic product (GDP) connected to it represented 5.5 per cent of Canada’s total economy — a bigger percentage than mining or oil and gas extraction. However, the often-hidden infrastructure of the digital economy brings new threats to the environment. The rise of cryptocurrencies could also dramatically change how people buy and sell things.