Accessible information is the key to combatting hate groups

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There’s a misconception that alt-right hate groups, while openly plaguing the US since Trump’s election, don’t have a Canadian equivalent. That belief is misinformed.

Hateful ideologies exist as much in Canada as they do in the US. They existed before Trump and they’ll exist long after him. When Trump was elected, his hateful tweets and outright support of groups like the Proud Boys normalized racist, bigoted thinking bordering on conspiracy theory.

Biden’s election doesn’t mean hate groups will die with the failure of his predecessor. They might feel less inclined to openly speak their beliefs, but those beliefs won’t change.

The same goes for Canada. Trump might not have been our president, but hate groups are very much active here, too.

The House of Commons recently passed a motion to address hate groups in Canada. The government recognizing these issues is important—but so is tangible action to curb the damage of these hate groups once and for all.

Many of these groups start on the internet. YouTube can easily turn into a rabbit hole of right-wing conspiracy theories, especially considering the platform’s algorithm recommends new content based on what you’ve already watched.

If you’re looking for a range of views and opinions, YouTube—like many other social platforms—isn’t the place to find them. Anyone clicking on right-wing conspiracy theories harbored by hate groups like QAnon and the Proud Boys will be recommended more conspiracy videos.

There's a plethora of information out there, more than enough for people to educate themselves. But the lack of accessibility is a barrier.

The YouTube videos and Instagram posts recommended to you will only ever reinforce the views you already have, no matter how misinformed. Your account therefore becomes a vacuum where only one kind of information is easily at your fingertips.

The other issue is the lack of accessible journalism. While many right-wing media platforms are free to access—like Fox News—more liberal journalism is often attached to a pay wall, effectively barring those unwilling or unable to pay for access to news.

To combat hate groups, the government must stand up to Big Tech corporations, privileging people over the revenue generated by these companies. In regulating hate groups and restricting their activity, online, the government can nip the influence of these groups in the bud.

Additionally, making a variety of media platforms accessible to all is equally important.

Right now, QAnon conspiracy theories are too easy to access. In acting against Canada’s hate groups, the government must protect its people by giving them the tools to educate themselves.

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