3 February 2017

Following the terrorist attack on the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebéc city, Mélanie Millette, 2011 Trudeau scholar and professor in the department of social and public communication at the Université du Québec à Montréal, gave several interviews on the role of social media in the dissemination of discriminatory discourse.

On Radio-Canada, she recalled that derogatory comments are part of the current social and political ecosystem of social media. While a tragic event might cause its share of rumors, comments, false news, incorrect or misleading information, she believes that we are all called to a duty of restraint. “The responsibility coming with the fact to express ourselves on a public platform can be understated” she explains. For instance, to act as responsible citizens, we can check and confirm information before spreading it.

On the other hand, Millette argues that social media put a lot of pressure on journalists who have to break the news as soon as possible. “In front of this kind of misconduct, the authorities must remind citizens [that conducting an inquiry is a specialized task] and must avoid that social media become a witch hunt whenever a tragedy happens.”

In an interview for Actualités UQAM on the use of social media by the American president Donald Trump, she observes the same phenomenon: “The explosion of all-news channels created an insatiable need of news. However, we allow less and less time to verify facts and analyze what has been said.” This is accentuated by the lack of an editorial filter on social networks as Twitter, where everyone may freely express his/her opinions.

Mélanie Millette

Mélanie is analyzing how social media can provide visibility and legitimacy to minority or marginalized groups. She is President of the Alumni Society of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

2011 Scholars Directors