Seven websites and apps promoting digital civic courage
Which is the right party for me? The Wahl-O-Mat has helped voters answer that question since 2002. | Photo (detail): picture-alliance/dpa/Peter Kneffel
Hate speech and fake news can massively influence public opinion. These apps and initiatives set out to counter that by strengthening political awareness and encouraging positive online discourse.
From European elections to regional ballots – since 2002 the Wahl-O-Mat has been regarded by many German voters as an invaluable tool for political guidance, a resource that helps them find out which party’s manifesto most closely reflects their own political views. Visitors to the site are invited to complete a questionnaire, expressing their views on 38 current topics and weighting them according to importance. This generates a list, showing the parties participating in the elections and the extent (in percent) to which their positions on the 38 topics coincide with the respondent’s views.
Fake It To Make It
Fake It To Make It is a browser game that lets you slip into the role of a fake news site operator. You copy articles with attention-grabbing headlines and buy influencer profiles to distribute them on social media. Readers’ emotions are mercilessly exploited. The more dramatic the online response, the greater the advertising revenue. Through play, Fake It To Make It explains the origin, dissemination and psychology of fake news and clickbait and at the same time raises awareness of the linguistic and emotional strategies used by the people behind them.
Homeparliaments is an initiative that brings European politics to the kitchen table. Any EU citizen can host a home parliament and invite friends and family to join a discussion on issues that matter for the future. The topics discussed in home parliaments are the same all over Europe. But the “resolutions” that are adopted can differ from one home to another. The resolutions are collected by the organiser, citizens’ initiative Pulse of Europe, and forwarded to policymakers. The initiative thus promotes active citizenship in Europe.
KEEP COOL mobil
How would climate change play out if you took the decisions? The online game KEEP COOL lets you find out. You take on the role of mayor of a major city and become one of 50 players in the round. Each one decides on an economic strategy, facing the trade-off between sustainability and growth. If global warming exceeds two degrees Celsius, all players lose. Youngsters and adults alike are thus challenged to engage intensively with the issues of climate change and climate policy.
No Hate Speech Helpdesk
The No Hate Speech Helpdesk is an online resource for fast help. It suggests “anti-hate strategies” for sensitively and effectively addressing insulting behaviour on the Internet. It presents authoritative research to promote public awareness and prevent hate speech. And it helps people take active steps against online hate – by directing them to reporting sites, for instance, and offering guidance on legal action against hate speech.
Neuwal shines a spotlight on politics from various angles. For example, visitors to the site can compare the results of the 1,200 most recent election polls conducted in Austria and check the quality and informative value of each poll. Neuwal also collects transcripts of interviews with politicians, documenting all the promises they make in the run-up to elections. At the same time, a politometer tracks the Austrian government’s progress in fulfilling its election pledges and shows how Austrian MPs voted in parliament in the past. The site also features an election barometer – the Austrian counterpart of the German Wahl-O-Mat.
Das NETTZ is another platform committed to promoting digital civic courage. It networks actors and initiatives that campaign for a positive culture of discussion and against hate speech on the Internet. It also runs a funding competition supporting projects that find particularly innovative ways to defy hate speech and Internet trolls. Four initiatives were funded in 2018, together receiving 20,000 euros. They included the protective “Hate Control” tool from #ICHBINHIER and the pro-respect campaign Radikale Höflichkeit.