When the printing press was invented more than 500 years ago, it was certainly done so with good intentions. However, one of the unintended side effects of that innovation, we know from retrospect, was its use to incite people. Wars, mainly religious wars, were the result.
In our times, the story of the Internet may sound similar. Invented to further participation and democratic discourse, and that is not a new discovery, the internet, and in particular social media, has become the main theatre of manipulation and incitement. That has given rise to all kinds of negative, not to say dystopic, reviews and comments, predicting conflict and even (civil) wars. But what if these negative features of manipulation and incitement aren’t going away and are going to stay as part of our life in the digital world?
500 years ago, there was no civil society in the sense we know it today. You don’t need to be a historian to see the advantage: Civil society and Civil Society Organisations can act as voices of reason and moderation. But how? Welll grounded experts in both, new media and civil society, look at the options and develop their vision on how misinformation and manipulated can be countered and the internet as a public good for the public good can succeed.
Ms. Barb Iverson, Digital Education Consultant, Berlin, Moderator
- Valerie Khan, Digital Equity Association
- Yin Yadanar Thein, Free Expression Myanmar
- Simone Toussi, CIPESA