Confronting the Disinformation Age

2019 Community Summit | April 10-18

Information is fundamental to our existence. Without it, we cannot understand or effectively respond to the events that shape our world. Throughout history, campaigns to deliberately spread false information to influence public opinion or obscure the truth have been launched by individuals, organizations, and governments. But today, we’re living in a new age of information facilitated primarily by digital technology. These advancements offer us extraordinary access to facts and data but also allow for harmful, inaccurate, and manipulated information to be created and disseminated at an unprecedented speed, scope, and scale. Falsehoods are pitted against facts in competition for our attention and technology is used to exploit our cognitive functioning without repercussion. In what is being called the “post-truth” era, the distortion of our information landscape is eroding our trust in institutions, political systems, the media, and each other.

SFU Public Square’s 7th Community Summit considered how the proliferation of disinformation is impacting society and challenging our capacity to make informed decisions about our economic, social, and political lives. Together, we co-created strategies to ensure stronger and healthier information ecosystems and stimulate more connected and resilient communities.

2019 Program

2019 Community Summit Program | PDF 3.8MB


Confronting the Disinformation Age

With David Frum, Sue Gardner,
and Christopher Wylie

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | 7:00 PM


Today, in what many are calling the “post-truth” era, we’re witnessing an epidemic of disinformation. How did we get here? Leading thinkers Frum, Gardner and Wylie will discuss how information is being co-opted, monetized, and polluted in our current context and the impacts on our society.  

A Special
Philosophers' Cafe

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 11:00 AM


The SFU Philosophers' Café invites people of all ages to an open and inclusive discussion about truth in the modern age. Lies and mistruths have always been used to sway people’s beliefs, and people have always created false personas. Plato wrestled with how to tell appearance from reality, and suggested that those in “the cave” might choose shadows and reflections over being truly enlightened. Are current times different and, if so, why and how? 

Competing Visions of Climate Populism

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 4:00 PM


How does the rise of populism shape debates about climate and energy in Canada? Can left visions of ecological populism combat disinformation and challenge the forces of extractive populism?

Populism has become an increasingly prominent force in Canadian political life, with significant implications for how the public engages with the intersecting politics of climate change and energy. 

in Research

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 7:00 PM


Research doesn’t just live in libraries, academic papers, and presentations; it has profound impact on our lives. Innovations in Research is a dynamic evening that showcases SFU researchers and entrepreneurs who are leading the way in designing solutions to confront the disinformation age.

Is Social Media Destroying Democracy?

Thursday, April 11, 2019 | 7:00 PM


Is social media a tool that informs and unites us, or is it responsible for deeper divisions and a more polarized society? Four expert debaters will engage in civil discourse and give you their best arguments before you cast a vote and decide the winner. Don’t miss this engaging, informative, and entertaining night!

Working Towards an
Inclusive Digital Society

Friday, April 12, 2019 | 10:00 AM


This interactive forum will address current practices, challenges and possibilities for justice-based approach to digital literacy education in communities that experience various forms of marginality across income, ability, health, gender and race. The forum adopts an intersectional approach to consider relationships between digital literacy and digital justice, paying close attention to equity, and how different groups are being positioned within digital ecosystems.

CANCELLED: Trumping Right-Wing Populism

Friday, April 12, 2019 | 7:00 PM


Note: This event is cancelled and we are working to reschedule it for the fall of 2019. While we would like to blame Donald Trump for the rise of the extreme right in Canada, there are a host of endogenous factors that have rendered Canada vulnerable to this trend. Our own breed of right-wing populism pre-dates the election of Trump and takes a peculiar yet also menacing form, ranging from political and media narratives that vilify newcomers and Muslims, et al., to social media platforms that breed fear and anxiety through purposive campaigns of misinformation.

Media, Misinformation, and What Can Be Done About It

Monday, April 15, 2019 | 12:00 PM


Given the rise of misinformation that we’ve seen around the world and in Canada, what practical steps can be taken to improve the coverage leading up to and during the 2019 federal election? Together we’ll dig into the real-life impacts of misinformation and brainstorm practical ways to serve the public and depolarize the discourse leading up to Canada’s 2019 federal election.

Face to Face(book) with Christopher Wylie

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 | 12:00 PM


The New Yorker calls him “a pink-haired, nose-ringed oracle sent from the future". Best known for his role in setting up – and then taking down – the cyberwarfare firm Cambridge Analytica, Chris has been listed in TIME100 Most Influential People in the World, Forbes’ 30 Under 30, Politico’s 50 Most Influential People in Politics and Business Insider’s 100 Coolest People in Tech.

Youth Take Action:
Digital Citizenship Day

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 | 9:00 AM

Digital citizenship is a new and evolving concept which grapples with the complex reality of new digital technologies that impact all aspects of our lives today. Youth Take Action: Digital Citizenship Day will bring together high school students for a full-day, in-person workshop.

The Philosophy of Fake News

Wednesday, April 17, 2019 | 7:00 PM

What is it exactly? How bad is it? And what can we do about it? Three philosophers grapple with how disinformation works and poses a serious threat to our democratic institutions. Join the discussion at this APA-sponsorsored public event!

SFU City Conversations:
When Facts Fail

Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 12:30 PM

Over the last decade, narratives surrounding climate, housing, drug, and transportation policies have taken centre stage in our news cycle and the collective conscious of Greater Vancouverites. Discourse about these complex issues has become highly polarized and clouded with misinformation.

Fabricating Meaning 

Thursday, April 18, 2019 | 1:00 PM

Language is the principle means through which we form an understanding of the world and the foundation in which social and political relations are built. Science provides a language that quantifies and objectifies, encouraging transparency and creating accessibility, when in reality, few have access.  

There is Truth Here

On view from April 5, 2019 until January 2020

The Museum of Vancouver is pleased to announce its newest feature exhibition There is Truth Here: Creativity and Resilience in Children’s Art from Indian Residential and Day Schools. SFU Public Square has partnered with the Museum of Vancouver to offer Community Summit attendees a 50% discount on admission for this exhibit.

Partners and Supporters