Briefing: The Silencing Effect of Toxic Social Media

A roundup of research, analysis and discussion from CIGI experts.

July 5, 2021
Then Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna talks to reporters in Ottawa, March 2016. (Art Babych/

On June 28, 2021, after six years as the Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, and as a senior cabinet minister, Catherine McKenna made the surprise announcement that she will not be a candidate in the next federal election. Although she has said that online “noise” was not the motivation for her departure, Ms. McKenna has long been the target of hateful sexist vitriol on social media.

A disproportionate number of women, and many female journalists and politicians of all political parties, experience online gender-based violence, which takes many forms. As Canada and other nations around the world consider regulations to address online hate, CIGI presents a roundup of our experts’ and contributors’ analysis of, and insights into, this growing problem — including findings that have emerged as part of our Supporting a Safer Internet project.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.