Thank you very much.
Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, thank you for the invitation to appear before you today. My name is Kevin Chan, and I am the head of public policy for Facebook Canada.
I want to begin by acknowledging the importance of the subject at hand today, the integrity of our elections.
Facebook stands for bringing us closer together and building community, creating a healthy environment for civic engagement. It is crucial to our mission as a company. We know that a service that fosters inclusive, informative, and civically engaged communities is critically important to the people who use Facebook.
I want to point out that we know how vital a platform Facebook is for your respective political parties and leaders in engaging citizens, and that it is an important means of communication that Canadians use to contact you directly. The Prime Minister used Facebook Live last week to announce Canada's new tariffs on the United States.
The leader of the opposition recently took part in a question and answer session with Canadians via Facebook, and the NDP leader live-streamed on Facebook his speech at the recent Kinder Morgan rally on Parliament Hill.
We recognize that Facebook is an important tool for civic engagement and that is why we take our responsibility to election integrity on our platforms so seriously.
In Canada, we understand the degree to which Facebook is a key platform for your respective political parties and leaders as well as an important way for Canadians to engage directly with you. The Prime Minister used Facebook Live last week to announce Canada's new tariffs on the United States. The Leader of the Opposition recently engaged in a Q and A session directly with Canadians on Facebook. As well, the leader of the NDP live-streamed his speech at the recent Kinder Morgan rally on Parliament Hill.
We recognize that Facebook is an important tool for civic engagement, and that is why we take our responsibility for election integrity on our platform so seriously. We have been engaged on the issue of election integrity in Canada for many years. Following the last federal election in 2015, the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections noted that Facebook's “cooperation and swift action on a number of key files helped us to quickly resolve a number of issues and ultimately ensure compliance with the Canada Elections Act”. It is our full intention to be equally vigilant in the next federal election in 2019. As referenced by the chair, a copy of the entire letter from the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections to Facebook has been sent to the committee for your consideration.
As you may know, the Communications Security Establishment published last year a report outlining various cyber-threats to the next federal election and identified two areas that Facebook sees a role in addressing: one, cybersecurity—the hacking into the online accounts of candidates and political parties; and two, the spreading of misinformation online.
In response, we launched last fall our Canadian election integrity initiative, which consists of the following five elements. First, to address cybersecurity, one, we launched a Facebook “Cyber Hygiene Guide” created specifically for Canadian politicians and political parties. It provides key information for how everyone who is administering a political figure or party's Facebook presence can help keep their accounts and pages secure. Second, we are offering cyber-hygiene training to all of the federal political parties. Third, we launched a new cyber-threat email line for federal politicians and political parties. This email line is a direct pipe into our security team at Facebook and will help enable quick response for compromised pages or accounts. Fourth, to address misinformation online, we have partnered with MediaSmarts, Canada's centre for digital and media literacy on a two-year project to develop thinking, resources, and public service announcements on how to spot misinformation online. This initiative, which we are calling “reality check”, includes lesson plans, interactive online missions, and videos and guides that will promote the idea that verifying information is an essential life and citizenship skill. Fifth, we launched our ads transparency test, called “view ads” here in Canada last November. This test, which is ongoing, allows anybody in Canada to view all ads a page is running, even if they are not in the intended audience. All advertisers on Facebook are subject to “view ads”, but we recognize that it is an important part of our civic engagement efforts. Candidates running for office and organizations engaged in political advertising should be held accountable for what they say to citizens, and this feature gives people the chance to see all the things a candidate or organization is saying to everyone. This is a higher level of ads transparency than currently exists for any type of advertising online or offline.
The “Cyber Hygiene Guide” and more information about these five initiatives can be found at facebookcanadianelectionintegrityinitiative.com. I have also circulated copies of the “Cyber Hygiene Guide” to this committee for your consideration. This is only phase one of our Canadian election integrity initiative, and we intend to launch additional measures to address cybersecurity and misinformation online in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election.
I want to also share with you some measures we have taken in advance of the Ontario election happening today. We conducted outreach to all Ontario candidate page administrators, sharing best practices to keep their accounts secure and ensuring that they have access to our cyber-threats crisis line. We sent an in-app notification to all Ontario candidate page administrators, which appeared at the top of their feed, reminding them to turn on two-factor authentication, and we launched a new MediaSmarts “reality check” public service announcement focused on how to access the validity of information online during a campaign. This video, which has been running since May 3, has been viewed more than 680,000 times. We will be rolling out similar initiatives for other provincial elections in Canada in the months to come.
With respect to Bill C-76, the elections modernization act, it is legislation that is about a broad range of election issues, many beyond the scope of Facebook. Bill C-76 does include a provision to require organizations selling advertising space to not knowingly accept elections advertisements from foreign entities. We support this provision.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today, and I will be pleased to answer your questions.