Examining mechanisms and potential or existing threats to the foundations of democracy. Digital Democracy

This topic group examines mechanisms and potential or existing threats to the foundations of democracy, emerging through digitalization. This includes changes and a potential undermining or manipulation of public discourses, emerging digitalized campaign strategies, organization of elections or information acquisition.

We cover the challenges emerging through asymmetry between our knowledge about those digital technologies and the influence those tools have on us. We want to contribute to the process of gaining a digital maturity.


Since the Enlightenment in the 18th century the word “maturity” (in German “Mündigkeit”) is not only a juridical term but stands for a responsibility towards yourself, your own life and the society you live in. In order to act mature, we must be able to recognize and understand connections that influence our everyday life, so that we are then able assess them – a process that can be rather tricky in our digitalized world. We use our smartphone for various of tasks, are members of various social media platforms and get our information through a myriad of different news services. However, the underlying algorithms and digital infrastructures of the used apps and digital services often have such a complexity and non-transparency that we are hardly able to understand them. Even more importantly: these unknown processes can influence our opinions, decisions and choices – sometimes with dramatic consequences.


Hereby, we focus on two main topics: privacy and the critical evaluation of information acquisition. Regarding privacy, our approach is not: “do not use Instagram, Twitter or Facebook or equal platforms”. We simply ask us and you – what do you think is an adequate way of using those platforms, are you aware of the consequences of your behavior on these platforms and do you know how those platforms work? In the field of critical evaluation of information, we analyze various mechanisms that influence our knowledge creation: In which way do algorithms influence the information we get? What consequences does concepts like attention economy have and how can we as a society deal with phenomena like deep fakes?


Speaker: Sebastian Grünwald
Members: Eva Charlotte Mayer, Michel Hohendanner, Dominik Dahlhaus, Julia Pfeiffer, Gunnar König, Claas Bruess

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