Another way of going in the right direction could be more regulation, suggested Leonard Nima. However, Ulf Gebhardt thinks that “we don’t need more regulation of freedom of speech”. In his opinion the solution is simply not to listen to hate speech and to remain in ones own social media bubble. Of course a controversial opinion that Barbara Costanzo didn’t fully agree with. In her experience, teenagers don’t know how to get trustworthy information or think that a problem is over because they don’t get any more news. That’s why she thinks that there should be education on the handling of social media, specially from young age on. As an example she mentioned a project Deutsche Telekom supports, in which journalists teach students about serious journalism.
After the discussion, there was room for questions from the audience in a creative and democratic way. People came together in groups and jointly suggested different topics that the panelists had the chance to elaborated on. For example, how could governments regulate companies like Facebook or Google in order to increase the diversity of opinion. To Ulf Gebhardt, this is very difficult as those companies are global and he doesn’t see any global entity responsible of it. Another point made by a group was about balance: How to make sure that are enough opinions from all sides or that the opinions are neutral.
Barbara Costanzo mentioned that this point has been discussed as well in some of the working groups she is involved in. They know that media competency is not currently neutral, but “it’s about democratical rules and how we want to live together in the internet” and this is why people should learn more so that everyone has the chance to participate equally.
In the case of the Democracy App, one solution they found was not to say which party proposed a law, so that people could vote on content and not on political affinity.
The last question was about inclusion of marginalized groups. To this point, Ulf Gebhardt explained that the audience for democratic involvement is limited by competency, because democracy is a complex topic. Not everyone wants to read the whole text of a law. Petitions on the other hand are more engaging, as they are easier to understand. For Barbara Costanzo there’s no need to wait until people get interested. “We can scale by jumping on them, showing best practices, looking for multipliers, like teachers. Don’t wait!”
Author: Luciana Padua