Bertelsmann Stiftung (ed.)

Iglesias Keller, Clara, Charlotte Freihse, Cathleen Berger

State actions against disinformation: Towards a healthy public sphere

Research Series: Reinhard Mohn Prize

Format Type
Date of publication
1. edition
41 pages, PDF


Free of charge


Across the world, states have taken initiatives against disinformation. However, we still lack a structured understanding of these measures assessing commonalities and differences, advantages, and risks of government responses to disinformation. To develop a typology, we assessed 66 state counter-disinformation initiatives from countries across all continents that we categorise along five dimensions: Mitigating false information, governing digital intermediaries, promoting transparency and quality in government communications, strengthening media pluralism and professional journalism, and building up public institutions. Our analysis points to the risk of authoritarian abuse of counter-disinformation measures and emphasises the need for comprehensive and integrated strategies. Where governments choose to actively counter disinformation, they must adopt a combination of online and offline measures. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to countering disinformation and the narrower the focus, the greater the risk of infringing citizen rights.

This report is part of an international research series conducted under the theme “strengthening democracy, countering disinformation”, commissioned and supported by the Upgrade Democracy team between 2023-2024

Related projects

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"To innovate, learn and make a difference works best by throwing a glance over our frontiers."

(Reinhard Mohn)

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Democracy is changing, not least in digital spaces. We mustn’t passively standby but get active. It is time for an upgrade for public discourse (societal level), infrastructures (systemic level), and foresight capabilities (political level). In our project “Upgrade Democracy”, we build bridges between diverse, international actors and disseminate solutions that successfully counter disinformation in their respective contexts and/or innovatively use digital tools to strengthen democracy.