“Canadian Officials Warn of Foreign Actors Targeting Social Media Feeds”
Foreign threat actors and terrorist groups are exploiting the social media presence of Canadians to manipulate and profile individuals, raising concerns among members of Canada’s spy agency. Cherie Henderson, an assistant director with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), cautioned members of the House of Commons committee about the ongoing threat of foreign interference. She asserted that these hostile actors are not confined to waiting for elections to interfere in Canadian affairs; rather, they engage in such activities continuously, every day.
The Concerns of CSIS
Expressing her apprehension, Henderson highlighted the heightened risk of foreign terrorist organizations drawing in young Canadians to their causes. The potential vulnerability of youth to the influence of these hostile actors is a significant area of concern for her and the agency. The ongoing study by the committee on access to information, privacy, and ethics focuses on the extent to which the data shared by Canadians on social media could fall into the hands of foreign governments.
Risks Posed by Social Media Platforms
The committee’s concerns also encompass the possible threats presented by various social media platforms in allowing access to personal information. Henderson emphasized that foreign threat actors employ multiple tools to scrape social media accounts. The more individuals share about their lives online, the easier it becomes for these actors to target and influence them. She specifically cited the exploitation of media by threat actors from countries like China and Russia, in addition to Iran and North Korea.
Artificial Intelligence and Online Interactions
Sami Khoury, head of the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, expressed concern about the potential use of artificial intelligence by foreign threat actors to amplify misinformation and interfere in Canada’s sovereignty. The issue of data being sold and traded by the companies that run these social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, was also raised by NDP MP Matthew Green. Sharon Polsky, president of the Privacy and Access Council of Canada, echoed the need for more robust laws to safeguard personal privacy online.
The infiltration of social media by foreign threat actors has the potential to disrupt the social fabric and integrity of Canadian society. As technology continues to advance, the global community must remain vigilant in countering such interference. The urgent need for stronger laws and policies to safeguard personal data and privacy online is undeniable. The protection of Canadian citizens from external manipulation and influence should be a priority for both the government and private sector alike.