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How to Work Together to Preserve Our Online Information Space?

  • Politiques, institutions et démocratie

How to Work Together to Preserve Our Online Information Space?

  • Politiques, institutions et démocratie

The digital revolution is drastically impacting the way we access information. In addition to TV, radio, or the websites of news outlets, information is now widely accessed via social media platforms. It is also impacting the way information is produced and spread, as well as the relationship between the “producers” and the “consumers” of information. With the advent of platforms based on user-generated content, Internet users themselves have become producers and broadcasters of information, just like journalists, institutional players, researchers, etc. A whole range of actors are now involved in the production and spread of information. Due to the ability to easily “like” and share social media posts or news articles, we have also all become potential promoters of informational content, whether produced by professionals or amateurs.

As a result, cyberspace can be perceived as an essential lever of our democracies, guaranteeing greater freedom of expression and a wider access to information. But it can also be portrayed as a dangerous space, filled with hate speech, false information, conspiracy theories, scams and click bait. Although these practices are not new, they are given a new impetus online, especially since the advent of social media platforms. For the last five years, the fight against “information disorders” has thus been gaining tremendous momentum in the public debate, both in France and abroad. From the spread of anti-Clinton propaganda by a wide range of Russian protagonists on social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, to the emergence of the QAnon movement, from the broadcasting of the French documentary Hold Up in November 2020, to President Donald Trump encouraging hate groups and political violence following Joe Biden’s victory in January 2021, a chain of events has gradually led governments, companies and civil society organisations to take action to protect and preserve the online information space. In this regard, the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a “textbook case”, with its load of conspiracy theories, anti-vax statements, wannabe epidemiology experts on social media, and even prominent heads of states tweeting hazardous advice.

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