#FakeNews Travels Fast — How Social Bots and Trolls Are Reshaping Public Debates

  • Date: October 07, 2019
  • Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Location: 55 Dundas Street West, Ted Rogers School of Management, TRSM Commons TRS 1-148 (7th Floor)
  • Open To: Students, staff, faculty, alumni, advisory council members, external community
  • Contact: Inthuja Ramachandran at iramacha@ryerson.ca, TRSM Dean’s Office
  • Note: As part of this event we will also be live streaming the 1st Official Leaders Debate scheduled for that same evening on Monday Oct. 7, 2019, 7-9 p.m. EST. Light food will be served. RSVP is required.

“In this age and this country, public sentiment is everything. With it, nothing can fail; against it, nothing can succeed. Whoever moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes, or pronounces judicial decisions.” These wise words, which feel so modern and contemporary they could have been uttered yesterday, were first spoken by Abraham Lincoln in 1858.

Molding public opinion is as old as politics. In recent years, as more and more Canadians are spending their time online, the process and methods used to influence public opinions have undergone some major changes. Most recently, these include the emergence of social bots and troll armies designed to shape public discourse. Their impact was felt in 2016 during the U.S. presidential election and the UK Brexit referendum. In both cases, social media platforms have emerged as an important avenue for disinformation operations and misinformation campaigns. Enabled by bots, trolls, and algorithm-driven filter bubbles, the weaponization of social media is undermining and weakening public trust in government institutions across the globe and threatening the future of democracy.

Join us at the next TRSM Dean’s Speaker Series as we dive into the fascinating world of political bots and trolls in Canada with Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd, Director of Research at Ryerson University Social Media Lab at TRSM. Dr. Gruzd will show how his lab uses publicly available social media data to show how misinformation spreads through online social networks on sites like Twitter and Facebook and recent discoveries about how bots and trolls are being injected into the conversation during the 2019 campaign. The event will be moderated by Tom Clark, Chairman, Global Public Affairs.

Anatoliy Gruzd, PhD is a Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, and Director of Research at the Social Media Lab in Toronto, Canada. He is also a founding co-editor of a multidisciplinary journal on Big Data and Society. His work explores the inner workings of online communities, studying how people and organizations adapt to social media in various domains, and examining tensions between privacy and self-disclosure on social media networks.

Tom Clark joined Global after almost 45 years at the most senior levels of Canadian journalism. Tom left Global News on January 1, 2017, after serving as the network’s chief political correspondent and host of The West Block. He has interviewed every Canadian Prime Minister since Lester B. Pearson and has covered every federal election campaign since 1974. He has reported in eight active war zones and from over 33 countries.

Tom was CTV’s China Bureau Chief and was also its Chief Washington Correspondent for five years. He has a deep understanding of Canada’s position in an increasingly complicated international dynamic. Tom is the recipient of Radio Television Digital News Association lifetime achievement award and has been named one of the most influential journalists in Ottawa.