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Stress Test for Democracy - Fighting Disinformation and Narratives

Workshop Cafe Kyiv

As part of Café Kyiv, Daphne Wolter and Ferdinand Gehringer (moderators) discussed in their workshop on "Stress Test for Democracy - Fighting Disinformation and Narratives" with their guests Dr. Ottilie Klein MdB, diplomat Mateusz Łabuz, Cybersecurity Attaché at the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and Valerie Scholz, journalist and co-founder of Facts for Friends.

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The fishbowl discussion focused primarily on the questions of how pluralistic societies and democracies can protect themselves against disinformation and narratives and what the Republic of Germany and the European Union should do to combat them.

Dr. Ottilie Klein argued that the issue of disinformation has not yet reached politics to a sufficient extent that affects the society as a whole. This state of affairs is unfortunate, she said, because disinformation, which can always contain true elements, massively weakens trust in democracy and the constitutional state, which can also be observed these days. The Cybersecurity Attaché Mateusz Łabuz agreed and outlined the current situation in Poland. The neighbour country is one of the main targets of Russian disinformation.

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Statement by MdB Dr Ottilie Klein on disinformation and democracy

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Valerie Scholz then explained the declining trust in the media, especially in the "classic media". One reason for this is that with increasing digitalization, topics and information are no longer determined by journalists. Nowadays, anyone can publish and distribute news and information. The content and its veracity are only rarely checked on the basis of facts.

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Statement by Valerie Scholz on dealing with disinformation

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Dr. Ottilie Klein, a member of the German Bundestag, pointed out that the best means of counteracting this trend is education and enlightenment. Other actions should be the blocking of so-called "troll accounts" and more stringent sanctions for influencers or other users with viral range who deliberately spread disinformation.

Mateusz Łabuz emphasized that the understanding has to be improved that the war in Ukraine is also taking place in the space of information. In addition, to an awareness of these circumstances, this could be met through strategic communication, he said. Proactive action and the development of counter-narratives are necessary to counter certain narratives in the information space.

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Statement by Mateusz Łabuz on the European perspective in dealing with disinformation

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Co-founder of Facts for Friends, Valerie Scholz emphasized that it is crucial to minimize the complexity of news. At the same time, constructive journalism should be practiced, which is more hopeful and shows solutions to problems.

Even if the spread of narratives and disinformation are undoubtedly means in war, the discussion showed that there are effective countermeasures. In the fight against disinformation and narratives, a great contribution can already be made through more fact-based information about the war in the space of information.

The full-length publication is available in German only. If you have questions, please contact us.

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Contact Person

Daphne Wolter

Daphne Wolter

Head of the Department Democracy, Law and Political Parties / Media

daphne.wolter@kas.de +49 30 26996-3607
Event Reports
KAS
February 27, 2023
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