There are also mounting concerns about the corrosive culture of debate online. Fake news, hate speech, and sensationalism are seen as threats, triggering calls for regulation. For example in Ghana, there is a strong demand by users for greater regulation of the digital sphere, bringing with it the risk of over-regulation. If societies give the government permission to regulate the Internet, they might end up with a government that tells them how to use the Internet. User self-restriction is also on the rise because of hate speech and other fears. Another problem: Dark social (transmitting messages through closed channels) might become the new social. Discourse then takes place “in the dark” without the public knowing about it – even if the public has to suffer the consequences.
The #speakup barometer is a DW Akademie project that examines the connection between digital participation, freedom of expression and access to information. Learn more at www.dw.com/barometer