June 15, 2022

SAMbot 2022 Ontario Election Snapshot

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SAMbot was deployed for the Ontario election to further the Samara Centre’s efforts to explore how online toxicity is a barrier to civic engagement and participation in our democracy. As political discourse is generally at its most toxic during campaigns, SAMbot helps us gain critical insight into the current state of online Canadian political conversations.

SAMbot tracked toxic tweets by monitoring the public Twitter accounts of 486 candidates and 14 official parties. We are pleased to release this 2022 Ontario Election Snapshot that provides an overview of the toxic sentiment captured by SAMbot between May 4, 2022 at 12:00 a.m. ET and June 2, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Candidates were tracked from all registered parties and details about tracked accounts can be found at the end of this Snapshot.

SAMbot uses a natural language processing, machine learning model to assess toxicity. These models are ever-evolving and thus, everytime SAMbot is deployed it becomes more accurate and informed.

Initial Findings

Election day the most toxic

On June 2, 2022 SAMbot tracked 4,339 likely toxic tweets. This was the highest volume of tweets and toxicity of any day during the election period. Approximately 60% of these tweets were captured between 9:00pm ET and 11:59pm ET, after polls closed across Ontario.

Ford primary target of toxic sentiment

Premier Doug Ford received the highest volume of likely toxic tweets (21,160) accounting for over a third (38%) of all likely toxic tweets during the election period.

Vaccine announcement prompts toxic response

May 7, 2022 was the second most toxic day on the digital campaign trail with SAMbot tracking  2,671 likely toxic tweets. This day featured an announcement from the Ontario Liberal Party regarding a plan to add COVID-19 vaccinations as required immunizations in Ontario schools. Over 20% of all likely toxic tweets received by Steven Del Duca during the election period were tracked on May 7 and 8, 2022.

Low toxicity during the Ontario leaders’ debate

The second most active day for tracking during the election period was on May 16, 2022 which was when the 2022 Ontario leaders’ debate was held. A total of 33,077 tweets were tracked with 2,146 (7%) likely to be toxic.

Party leaders face majority of toxicity

Leaders of the six largest parties received over half (54%) of all tracked tweets and 65% of all likely toxic tweets.

Read the full snapshot

For full toxicity rankings by volume and proportion, as well as the candidates that received the highest volume of toxicity, download the full report.

View the Full ReportView the Full Report