Strengthening the Digital Public Sphere
The digital public sphere creates an entirely new information and media system that democratizes communication processes, but at the same time produces new challenges. These include, for example, disinformation campaigns and the amplification of inflammatory, populist views, especially on digital platforms and in social networks. Traditional journalistic gatekeepers are confronted with the new power of these digital platforms at a time when workable business models for journalism in the digital space are scarce.
Technology companies, media as well as political and societal actors are aware of this upheaval taking place in the digital public sphere. However, the way this profound change is handled in Germany is piecemeal. There is a lack of systematic action to strengthen the resilience of internet users, legislators and media professionals in the face of disinformation and online hate speech. A holistic policy agenda is also lacking: Sticking to singular measures, voluntary self-regulation and a political silo mentality would mean continuing to fail to recognize that disinformation and online hate speech are symptoms of our public’s digital structural change.
Which measures and approaches are appropriate to address not only the symptoms but also the structural challenges of our digital public and its underlying business models? In the project cluster “Strengthening the Digital Public Sphere”, we deal with this question.