“My evidence is that there’s really a potent force shaping these views,” said Frank Graves, president of EKOS research, in a previous interview with the Star. “The people who have these extreme views, they’re lower information consumers, they’re not typically well educated, they tend to be middle aged or older.
Though they don’t consume government websites and mainstream media, they tend to overconsume Facebook, Reddit and YouTube.” In Druthers’ short life so far, the paper doubled in print output for the January issue. Then doubled again in February. Laponte started posting on Facebook and Telegram that he was surprised but pleased about the paper’s growth, and that he was getting contacted by Canadians from coast to coast who wanted to help distribute it.
Laponte told the Star they’re aiming for 200,000 papers in March. But while much of the conversation surrounding Druthers is happening in online communities, where conspiracy theorists have traditionally made their homes, this project has been sure to put the heart of its content into print, where big technology companies cannot stop it from spreading. “Druthers was born from the need to get around the blatant censorship by the big tech companies,” Laponte wrote to the Star. “With tens of thousands of doctors and other health professionals voices being silenced online, and with mainstream media not giving these experts any airtime despite the potentially life saving info they were bringing to the table, it quickly became clear that printed information was the way to go.”
The health professionals Laponte refers to are, for example, the World Doctors Alliance, which has made videos shared thousands of times over social media and has been identified by the AFP Fact Check site as a group of medical practitioners making numerous false claims about COVID-19. Ahmed Al-Rawi, who runs the Disinformation Project at Simon Fraser University, studying false information online, said it’s only to be expected that some conspiracy theorists will turn to alternative, or in this case old-school, methods of disseminating information when the big social media sites — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, especially — start factchecking and taking down more false content.
Al-Rawi has noticed that some of the far-right Facebook groups he monitors have started recruiting followers to other platforms less likely to be censored. In some cases, he’s seen the conversations become even more extreme and hateful when moved off the mainstream platforms. “I’ve never seen this kind of hatred before,” Al-Rawi said, referring to one channel he followed on the mobile messaging app Telegram. “Yeah I do worry about it, especially if the customized mobile platforms are encrypted and harder for others to reach. Harder for us to monitor.”
Reached by the Star, both the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said they do not monitor or investigate misinformation and conspiracy theories. What they do investigate, meanwhile — threats to security and online communication that veers into threatening territory — is becoming harder to trace. RCMP declined to comment on the investigative tools used.
In an email statement, CSIS spokesperson John Townsend wrote that media and social media have enabled a surge in propaganda disseminated by threat groups. “Most notably, the increased use of encryption technologies allows terrorists to conceal the content of their communications and operate with anonymity while online,” Townsend wrote. “They can evade detection by police and intelligence officials, which often presents a significant challenge when governments investigate and seek to prosecute threat actors.”
Druthers is not a source of those kinds of threats, nor does it appear to be an example of misinformation becoming more extreme when it moves offline — most of the articles, at least, are presented as opinion and do not deny the existence of COVID-19 outright. But it may elucidate one way misinformation sources might endure beyond the threats of shutdown by mainstream social media sites.
In between even CTV did report, and it is obvious how Mainstream media is manipulating the people. They called it scamming and misinformation 🙂
A email to CTV :
Hello Annie Bergeron-Oliver, CTV National, I watched the National news and saw a report you presented about Scammers preying onto population asking for money and spreading misinformation. There is no doubt that scams are happening but combining scammers looking for money with people that express their opinion in a newspaper is a very unfair thing to do in our democratic free speech society.
In your report one can see someone distributing a paper, which is not clear if it is the Druthers paper that was shown immediately after, all under the pretext of false information with the taste of scamming for money. Arent we a society where one can express their views without being thrown in with money scammers? It is very obvious that CTV news departed from journalism that reports unbiased facts to journalism that reaffirms and distributes the governments directive.
I think the government has spent enough money with their campaigns to make their point to the public. Obviously CTV benefits financially from expanding the governments information to the news. Even though this is not real journalism, i can understand the intentions and associated benefits for CTV. What i dont understand is the need to purposefully dragging differing opinion into the scam and misinformation category.
Is CTV or the government so desperate to make their point that they are without a shadow of a doubt 100% correct with every decision they make? Isnt it necessary to hold governments accountable and being allowed to express a different view in a free democratic Canada? I find it appalling that CTV associated Druthers with scammers. The damage has been done.
I appeal on your sense of decency and fairness. Have you read the Druthers paper yourself? See it here: https://druthers.net/canada-2021-february/ I cant see anywhere scamming for money. We ought to allow different opinion and uphold the freedom of expression and speech even when the views differ. It would be a shame if we drift to a totalitarian system and allow our government to be equal with the chinese communist party censoring any differing view and even worse, associating different views falsly with scam. Regards Achim Mohssen-Beyk