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Digital Media Literacy

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Digital Media Literacy

Empathizing with the Internet

The Walrus,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Hate groups use social media platforms’ tolerance of inappropriate speech to suit their purposes.

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Innovative
  • Applicable


This podcast by The Walrus features Mohit Rajhans interviewing Kara Brisson-Boivin, Director of Research at MediaSmarts, a charity promoting digital literacy in Canada. She draws your attention to some critical considerations about digital literacy, especially for the young. Brisson-Boivin’s research reveals how hate groups use digital media for recruitment, in part by drawing on material from users who are not overt haters. She explains why algorithms and recommendation engines, even when they offer users a range of options, are hazardous to the truth. Parents concerned about what their children may be doing online – and, indeed, anyone who is active online – will want to understand these risks.


MediaSmarts, a Canadian nonprofit advocating digital literacy, found that online communications promoting hate can be subtle. 

MediaSmarts, a nonprofit originally focused on televised violence, provides tools and educational resources for digital literacy.Digital relationships occur without the helpful, nonverbal cues of in-person conversations, such as facial expressions and body language. This means, MediaSmarts has found, that many people find it difficult to express or feel empathy in online interactions.

Some online communities tolerate racist or misogynistic language. Language doesn’t have to be overt and blatant to be offensive. Particularly among teenage males, it might take the form of a joke that exemplifies “casual forms of prejudice.” Aside from insulting the targeted groups, overt...

About the Podcast

Director of Research at MediaSmarts ( Kara Brisson-Boivin spoke with host Mohit Rajhans on The Walrus.

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