Broschüre mit Ergebnissen

Plenty of positive feedback on the recommendations of the citizens’ assembly “Forum against Fakes”

In its four sessions, the citizens’ assembly compiled five provisional recommendations for better ways to deal with disinformation, and subsequently invited the general public to submit feedback online. The Bertelsmann Stiftung project presents the results of the online participation in a report. The majority of online participants support the recommendations. 9,623 citizens voted 10,381 times on the citizens’ assembly’s five preliminary recommendations and left a comment 1,703 times in all. There is a broad consensus in favour of the recommendations on better ways to deal with disinformation.  

Contact persons

Anna Renkamp
Senior Project Manager
Foto Angela Jain
Dr. Angela Jain
Senior Project Manager
Celine Burke
Trainee

Content

Strong support for the “Forum against Fakes” recommendations

Four of the recommendations received more than 75 per cent approval: Raising public awareness of and improving education about disinformation, increasing the media literacy of the population, obliging social media companies to accept responsibility, and raising and supporting public awareness of AI. The recommendation to create central offices for reporting, checking and rectifying disinformation received 65 per cent approval. However, the latter recommendation received by far the most reactions and sparked the most controversial debate, attracting 3,380 votes and 389 comments. The reactions prove that disinformation is perceived as a genuine threat to democratic order. The participants welcome the introduction of measures to combat disinformation.  

A raft of ideas on effective ways to combat disinformation. Germany takes part.

By adding their thoughts in the form of comments, online participants continue and enhance the development of the citizens’ assembly’s recommendations. When it comes to “Awareness and education”, one of the online community’s suggestions is to use credible testimonials that support the anti-disinformation campaigns and address target groups authentically. Ideas for “Increasing media literacy” include education campaigns both on social media and in day-to-day settings. In this way, broad sections of the population would receive target-group oriented education about disinformation. Like the citizens’ assembly, online participants also demand that social media companies accept responsibility. The online community supports this recommendation – for example with the idea of a legal obligation to investigate and dispel disinformation, and the mandatory verification of user accounts. The “Artificial Intelligence (AI)” recommendation is also well received and augmented by constructive proposals. One of several issues frequently mentioned in the comments is an obligation to label content generated by AI. The online community also calls for education on AI in educational institutions and the power to impose sanctions for the dissemination of AI-generated disinformation.

The participants lay particular emphasis on awareness and education campaigns: teaching media literacy in educational institutions, target-group oriented information, education and communication are repeatedly mentioned.

Concerns about interference in freedom of expression

There is a controversial discussion about the recommendation to create central offices for reporting, checking and rectifying disinformation. From the comments it is clear that online participants are interested in the exact form and scope of central, autonomous reporting offices for disinformation. The debate on who ultimately decides what the term “disinformation” means is particularly controversial, with some participants fearing interference in their right to free speech.

Uncertainty about the term “disinformation”

The participation online also shows that many participants equate disinformation with freedom of expression. Many participants are unaware that disinformation is defined as information that has been deliberately manipulated with the intention of influencing people and damaging society. It follows that more education is required here.

Final draft of the requirements for action

The next step was for the citizens’ assembly to use both the voting results and the comments to further develop its recommendations.

The citizens’ assembly met for the second time in Berlin from 24. to 26. May. Taking the online participation results into account, the 120 randomly selected citizens formulated the final recommendations and packages of measures. They were supported by experts on disinformation.

The final requirements for action will be put to vote online again on 5. June and subsequently be summarised in a citizens’ report, before they are formally submitted to Nancy Faeser, Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, on 12. September 2024. At the event, citizens and stakeholders representing policymakers, administrators, the media, businesses and civil society will discuss the implementation of the recommendations. The Federal Government will use the results of the citizens’ report in the development of its strategy for managing disinformation.

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