“Forum against Fakes – Together for a Strong Democracy” is a project of the Bertelsmann Stiftung. The foundation cooperates in the project with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland, the Mercator Foundation and the Michael Otto Foundation for Sustainability. The BMI acts primarily as the recipient of the citizens’ policy recommendations, while Stiftung Mercator and the Michael Otto Foundation for Sustainability support the project financially. The project is also supported by the news portal T-Online, the #UseTheNews initiative and the project advisory board.

In an innovative participatory process, concrete policy recommendations are developed in the form of a citizens’ report and a broad debate is stimulated throughout society. The addressees are decision-makers at federal and state level, as well as other stakeholders such as platform operators and civil society organizations. Digital innovations, particularly the use of AI, and the spread of social media have dramatically changed the nature of public communication. Information manipulation and disinformation are putting our democracy under targeted pressure.

In the overall project, broad online participation and a citizens’ assembly based on random selection are closely interlinked in order to raise awareness of these challenges and find answers. As a service provider for the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the nexus Institute is designing and organizing a citizens’ assembly for 120 randomly selected citizens. A safe space is created in which discussions take place on the basis of facts and arguments, personal experience and in discourse with experts and different perspectives from interest groups. This enables balanced and practicable recommendations to be made to politicians and stakeholders. The meetings of the citizens’ council will take place between March and May 2024.

Together with the Bertelsmann Stiftung team and the service provider, the nexus Institute is developing a concept for online participation (Make.org) in which the complex topic for a broadly and diverse citizens’ council is prepared. In two presence and three online sessions, citizens respond to the results of the online participation. In moderated small groups, they develop recommendations on the topics of artificial intelligence as a danger and an opportunity for information transfer on the Internet, the influence of social media on journalistic standards, and election influence and destabilisation of democracy through the influence of foreign states.

As a result, policy recommendations are developed and documented in a citizens’ report, which will be handed over to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and for Homeland (BMI) in September 2024. The nexus Institute supports the participants of the Citizens’ Council in formulating their recommendations and brings together all the results in the citizens’ report, supplemented by a presentation of the process.

Click here to go to the project website: https://forum-gegen-fakes.de

Duration: 12/2023-09/2024
Client: Bertelsmann Stiftung
Team: Prof. Dr. Christiane Dienel (Project manager), Nicolas Bach
Project partner:
Make.org and other service providers of the Bertelsmann Stiftung

Illustration: Francesco Ciccolella | Konzept & Design: TAU GmbH