OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says governments need to be wary of taking steps to regulate social media platforms that could be used by authoritarian regimes to further repress free speech.
He says the “heavy hand of government” is not the solution to bad actors who use the internet to spread hatred and extremism, exacerbate societal divisions, sow distrust in democratic institutions and manipulate election outcomes.
Rather, he says tech titans like Facebook and Google shouldn’t be considered “automatic antagonists” but should work with citizens and governments to resolve the problems.
And Trudeau says it’s in their interests to do so because users will delete their social media accounts if they become “pools of toxicity.”
He warns that regulations that democratic countries like Canada could find useful to restrain the negative aspects of social media could be used by other countries as a tool for oppressing and controlling citizens and attacking free speech.
Still, Trudeau says if the tech giants don’t take voluntary steps to resolve the problems, they will inevitably face government regulation.