This policy paper departs from the straightforward observation that the public debate in countries across the globe is gradually shifting from the offline “town square” to the online sphere, where polarization and false information often shape (and radicalize) political views. Manipulation using disinformation as a strategy might serve political and financial interests of actors bent on influencing citizens’ perceptions in key moments such as elections and national political discussions, effectively disrupting democratic systems, both domestically and abroad.
Against this backdrop, this paper explores the information gap between the tech companies, regulators and civil society, arguing that the online platforms alone cannot provide the answer to the complex phenomenon of online manipulation. The paper draws on questions of regulation with a focus on the European legislative debate, emphasizing the need to promote a multi-stakeholder approach as a way to increase societal resilience to disinformation and effectively consolidate democratic foundations to withstand emerging online threats in the future.
As a way forward the paper presents recommendations for policymakers, civil society organizations and tech companies.
Table of contents
02 The Online Public Sphere
03 Can Tech Companies Alone Provide the Answers ?
04 Framing the Regulation Debate
4.1 European Debate: The Digital Services Act and the European Democracy Action Plan
05 Role of Civil Society and Research Institutions
06 Policy Recommendations and Next Steps