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OTTAWA — A new U.S. study warns Canadians that the photos and video of Justin Trudeau in black- and brownface are ripe for exploitation by those seeking to spread confusion, division and hate ahead of the Oct. 21 vote.

Researchers from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center say they are already seeing fake images related to the controversy circulating online.

They say they expect those will gain wider prominence just ahead of the Oct. 21 vote as part of deliberate or even unintentional misinformation campaigns.

The group suggests that Trudeau’s inability to say for certain whether he wore skin-darkening makeup more than the three times he’s acknowledged creates more uncertainty that can be used to fuel hoaxes.

The research is being released today in connection with a Canadian study that found discussions on social media of the controversy largely disappeared after three days. 

The Digital Democracy Project findings suggest as well that the social-media discussions were not hijacked by those seeking to drive the debate in a particular direction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3,  2019.

The Canadian Press

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