Inside the 43rd Canadian general election on Twitter

By @_MicheleAustin‎
Monday, 23 September 2019

Now that the writ is dropped, it’s officially election season in Canada. As Canadians head to the polls next month for the 43rd Canadian general election, Twitter will serve the public conversation as millions of Canadians come to the service to learn, discuss and debate.

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Here is a snapshot of the hashtags, trends and topics that will tell the 43rd Canadian general election story on Twitter this fall, as well as details about how we’re protecting the integrity of the conversation online and prioritizing advertising transparency.

The Hashtags

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We worked with our partners at Elections Canada (@ElectionsCan_E and @ElectionsCan_F) to launch a custom Twitter emoji for the election. During the campaign, people who use Twitter can Tweet any of these hashtags to unlock the emoji and add some extra colour to their Twitter conversations. 

  • #cdnpoli
  • #polcan
  • #ItsOurVote
  • #CestNotreVote
  • #elxn43

#cdnpoli is one of the most widely used hashtags in Canada each year. In 2019 alone, only #BellLetsTalk has been used more often, 

Mentions of #cdnpoli have also grown significantly on Twitter since our last federal election in 2015. Benchmarked against 2015 levels, Twitter mentions of #cdnpoli have increased by 86% in 2019. 

The Leaders

The official accounts of party leaders will also be key accounts to follow in the lead-up to #elxn43. As of early September 2019, @JustinTrudeau has more than 4.5M Twitter followers, which is more than 10x the number of followers  he had when he was elected prime minister in October 2015. 

Andrew Scheer (@AndrewScheer) has also seen a massive growth in Twitter conversation in recent years. In 2018 and 2019 so far, he had more Twitter account mentions than any politician aside from @JustinTrudeau. Scheer has 13x more Twitter followers in September 2019 than he did when he was elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada in early 2017.

Additionally, here are the official accounts of four other party leaders to keep an eye on in the coming weeks:

Election Integrity Efforts

With numerous elections are taking place around the globe since 2015, we’ve taken the learnings from each to improve the experience of the people who use Twitter. We have a cross-functional team focused on election integrity efforts that aims to foster an environment conducive to healthy, meaningful conversation on Twitter and address threats posed by hostile foreign and domestic actors.

New rules

Last fall, we updated the Twitter Rules around several key issues impacting the integrity of elections across the globe. The rules address: (1) fake accounts engaged in a variety of malicious behaviors, (2) accounts that are intended to replace accounts we have previously suspended for violating our rules, and (3) the distribution of hacked material that contains private information or trade secrets, or could put people in harm’s way.

Additionally, earlier this year, we strengthened our rules against deliberate attempts to mislead voters to now explicitly prohibit manipulating or interfering in the election process. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress voter turnout or mislead people about when, where, or how to vote. 

Fighting Spam and Manipulation

Communal spaces on Twitter (like search, hashtags, and trends) are the most common areas where people go to find the latest information about ongoing events and conversation outside of their home timeline and existing follower network. This is especially true during live events with a high volume of Tweets, like leader debates.

We know bad-faith actors can attempt to manipulate the content in these spaces, and our existing rules and algorithms are built to stay ahead of these attempts. Our policies ban misleading, deceptive, and spammy behavior and prohibit attempts to game trends or cause unrelated Tweets to appear in search results. In addition to these existing preventative systems, we will be protecting the integrity of the conversation around key topics and trends. 

Our public policy team has trained and continues to work with more than a dozen federal government organizations in Canada to better understand security and content best practices.  We also work with these groups to get intelligence on potential threats to the platform. 

Public Archive of Information Operations

Last October, we launched the first archive of potential state-backed information operations we’ve seen on Twitter. It is our fundamental belief that these accounts should be made public and searchable so members of the public, governments, and researchers can investigate, learn, and build media literacy capacities for the future. We updated this public archive in January, in June, and as recently as last month, and will continue to do so if we identify state-backed activity targeting conversations on Twitter.  Ours is the largest public database of disinformation activity anywhere in the world. 

How do I identify and learn about ads?

Twitter allows regulated Canadian political advertising for the election period, including issue advocacy ads, in compliance with Canadian law. Organizations seeking to advertise political content must undergo a thorough certification process in order to advertise on Twitter. Our Political Content Policy for Canada is now available and organizations can begin the registration process by filling out this form. Additional details about political advertising in Canada can be found here.

Stay Informed

During the campaign, Canadians on Twitter will have the option to receive the latest #elxn43 content on a subscription basis. Canadians can engage by Liking a Tweet from @CanadaMoments which will push the top Twitter election content into the account owner’s timeline each day during the campaign. This feature has been used during past events such as the Wimbledon tennis championship and is a great way to stay informed.

Twitter exists to serve the public conversation. For Canadians and other stakeholders in the #elxn43 dialogue, confidence in the integrity of the information found on our service is essential.

Our efforts to foster healthy, meaningful conversations on Twitter during the #elxn43 campaign are ongoing, and we will continue to provide updates on these efforts via @TwitterCanada.

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