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Our digital information ecosystem fails to deliver the communications landscape needed to sustain our democracies. We need to act now.

In the following paper we describe some of the more prominent characteristics of our current digital information landscape, and the various conditions that, combined, have lead to a few giant players wielding undesirable power over our freedom of expression and public debate. These dominant platforms and the businesses that provide them, have become so omnipresent and seem so untouchable, that it is hard to imagine we can change course. We can. With this paper we wish to contribute to shifting the discussion from how we can adapt to these businesses and fix their platforms, towards what a healthy communications landscape looks like in an increasingly digitalized world - and how to get there.

Contents of the paper

  • Chapter 1 briefly touches on the importance of freedom of expression for our democracies.
  • Chapter 2 looks at three defining characteristics of the current landscape: mediation, market dominance and exploitative business models.
  • Chapter 3 analyses some of the difficulties of operating on a global scale with one single speech regulation policy.
  • Chapter 4 describes the conditions that have lead to the giant platforms being so powerful and nearly immune to external forces.
  • Chapter 5 discusses how this concentration of power negatively impacts our freedoms and endangers our societies.
  • In chapter 6 we note why our correctional mechanisms - self-regulation, the market, policy makers and civil society - have been failing.
  • Finally, in chapter 7, we outline what needs to be done next.

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Picture credits: Marcelo Mattina

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