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De-platforming, censorship, and public debate

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on: 17. June 2019, 14:52:08
An open dialogue is of pivotal importance to democracy and creativity. It is helpful to visualise the "public sphere" as a spatial object. Under the banner of "fighting disinformation" this space of debate on public affairs (science, social issues, ect.) is currently under heavy attack. The sphere is compressed and the debate is restricted.
See for instance the following whitepaper released by Google at the Security Conference in München in May 2019. This all might sound harmless to the naive observer but what it really boils down to is top-down digital censorship. German citizens understand best what this can lead to in the worst case scenario. Book-burning is the physical equivalent of algorithmic censorship. Who decides what counts as disinformation? What are the exact decision criteria? And are the decisions based on a democratic decision procedure or is the decision power in the hand of a selected group who hold idiosyncratic biases on many important topics?
Here are the "three foundational pillars" of the whitepaper (expressis verbis):

-Improve our products so they continue to make quality count;
-Counteract malicious actors seeking to spread disinformation;
-Give people context about the information they see.

It can be concluded, ipso facto, that the days of neutral and unbiased web-search via Google are over...

PDF of the whitepaper:
Additional URLs:


Castells, M. (2008). The New Public Sphere: Global Civil Society, Communication Networks, and Global Governance. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 616(1), 78–93.

The public sphere is the space of communication of ideas and projects that emerge from society and are addressed to the decision makers in the institutions of society. The global civil society is the organized expression of the values and interests of society. The relation-ships between government and civil society and their interaction via the public sphere define the polity of society. The process of globalization has shifted the debate from the national domain to the global debate, prompting the emergence of a global civil society and of ad hoc forms of global governance. Accordingly, the public sphere as the space of debate on public affairs has also shifted from the national to the global and is increasingly constructed around global communication networks. Public diplomacy, as the diplomacy of the public, not of the government, intervenes in this global public sphere, laying the ground for traditional forms of diplomacy to act beyond the strict negotiation of power relationships by building on shared cultural meaning, the essence of communication.
« Last Edit: 17. June 2019, 19:36:26 by admin »