NEW BRUNSWICK – With a provincial election scheduled for next month, Elections New Brunswick is asking voters not to take everything they see online at face value.
The agency responsible for administering provincial and municipal elections has launched a campaign encouraging voters to question the source and accuracy of information shared on social media that may be designed to manipulate their views on issues, candidates and political parties.
“It is no secret that social media plays a role in our everyday lives, from the way we connect with friends and family to the way we share information and ideas,” said chief electoral officer Kimberly Poffenroth. “The exponential growth in the use of social media to influence elections has created a digital battleground that offers few, if any, rules to ensure the accuracy of the information being pushed out.”
The campaign uses purposefully ridiculous social media posts – such as a sighting of the Loch Ness monster in the Miramichi River – to make the point that not everything online is factual, but if someone you know shares it, you may be more likely to believe it. In the case of election-related material, Elections New Brunswick is asking voters to take a moment and check information before they like or share it, especially since it may intentionally misrepresent a party or candidate.
“While not specifically part of our mandate, we want to play a role in educating voters to be aware of attempts to influence them through the use of misinformation posted online,” said Poffenroth.
The campaign also stresses that the public should consider Elections New Brunswick the trusted source of facts related to the electoral process, such as voting locations, dates and times.
The campaign includes ads on television and YouTube, as well as social media posts. A new section has also been added to the Elections New Brunswick website to help people spot false news and misinformation.
More information about the awareness campaign is available online.