Polina GARAEV, Israel Public Policy Institute (IPPI), Israel
Lorenz-Spreen PHILIPP , Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany
Nicole M. KRAUSE, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States
Markus WEIßKOPF, Wissenschaft im Dialog gGmbH (Science in Dialogue), Germany
Erez GARTY, Davidson Institute of Science Education, Israel
The growing dominance of social media as a source for news and information has altered the way individuals perceive and understand the world around them. The global phenomenon of “information disorder”, which builds on the proliferation of online platforms, influx of information and precision propaganda campaigns, has fed into ongoing societal processes such as growing economic stratification and political polarization. The COVID-19 crisis is a case in point, demonstrating just how the rapidly digitizing information ecosystem has contributed to the blurring of distinction between facts, myths and rumors, thus effectively undermining democratic societies’ basic premise of deliberated and negotiated political action, which is necessarily based on a fundamental shared understanding of reality.
Building on IPPI’s recently published series of policy papers, the proposed panel discussion, will present a unique mosaic of perspectives and insights by experts from Israel, Germany and the US, which shed light on different facets of the phenomenon of online misinformation, with the aim of invigorating a societal debate on the issue as well as offering concrete ideas about how to address it.
More specifically, the panel discussion will present and discuss the following issues:
Psychology of information consumption online: The main changes in the way individuals perceive and interpret reality due to the increased adoption of social media as a gateway to information and news. The discussion will dedicate specific attention to the psychological mechanisms that guide how information is acquired, processed and disseminated in the online environment.
Erosion of trust in the digital age: Assessing the scope of trust erosion in the “traditional truth-tellers,” and addressing the challenges to a fact-based societal discourse, both prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and in times of crisis.
Targeting the “undecided”: the role of science communication in fostering a fact-based public discourse and by identifying and engaging the right target groups via a multilevel approach.
Building trust in science with innovative communication methods: Using micro-targeting for good, with tailored messages designed to reach the most receptive individuals.
The panelists will provide a nuanced understanding of the main challenges to a fact-based public discourse in the digital age and discuss potential promising pathways to address aforementioned challenges, drawing on their experiences as researchers and practitioners in the Israeli, German and US arenas. As the three countries represent very different test cases, for example, in terms of political polarization, trust in institutions and science communication traditions, the joint exploration could provide valuable insights relevant for a myriad of other countries facing the similar challenge of promoting a fact-based public discourse in the information age.
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