Ever greater numbers of people are participating in democratic processes via the internet. But fake news, bots and filter bubbles can so easily lead us down the wrong path. Digital democracy – its implications, and what you need to know.
From childhood on, we struggle to decide for ourselves on how we are to live our lives. We shouldn’t be willing to give that up when we reach adulthood. Democracy and liberty are not something we can take for granted.
Use one of the popular online petition platforms, openpetition, change.org or Avaaz.org and simply express your opinion online on the topics of your choice. But beware: Before you vote in an e-petition, be aware that the petition texts are often formulated so that as many people as possible vote in the spirit of the initiator of the campaign. Important arguments of the other side are often not presented. Therefore, keep to Grandpa's advice and always read two newspapers. The German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, has also created an online platform for petitions. On all the above-mentioned platforms you can start a petition yourself using just a few clicks. If a petition receives 50,000 signatures within a month, then the petition must be discussed on the parliament floor. And using Abgeordnetenwatch you can ask members of Germany’s various parliaments questions directly and in public. But above all, use your vote – the most intelligent way of expressing your protest and influence European decision making.
Drop Google and replace it from now on with Startpage.com. Because the Google search engine always returns stuff you already know about, carefully wrapping you in your own personal customized bubble. Startpage.com delivers the same results as Google, but without enveloping you in the filter bubble. As an added bonus, startpage.com searches are always anonymous. This prevents your search queries from giving off tell-tale hints of your interests that can be added to your digital footprint. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by Big Brother. Be aware that every click you make on the internet leaves behind a personal trace and take a look at our tips on how you can prevent that from happening. And above all – and this is something as true now as it was in the past – make sure to use a variety of sources before you make up your mind. If you get your information on politics via Facebook, be aware that the stream of information you receive from it wraps you in a filter bubble. Use independent media if you really want to find out about the world!
The internet is very good at providing you with information, but be aware that much of what you see online – and particularly in the social media – is fake news. In this article we explain how you can keep fake news at arms’ length using four simple tricks. If something looks a little suspicious but you’re unsure about it, take a look at portals like the fact checker provided by the news programs of public service broadcasters like Germany’s ARD (Faktencheck). Or use Germany’s Reporterfabrik – correctiv, portal, which is designed for serious journalists, and which provides support and instructions to help identify fake news. This very unusual project receives funding from Deutsche Telekom.