Forum against Fakes - a broad online citizen participation to support the work of a new citizens' panel in Germany on how to tackle misinformation

Forum against Fakes - a broad online citizen participation to support the work of a new citizens' panel in Germany on how to tackle misinformation

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As disinformation can represent a threat to democracy, the "Forum against Fakes" project initiates a Germany-wide debate on how to deal with disinformation with a unique and innovative format of participation. The project starts with the launch of an online consultation on to enrich the upcoming work of a citizens' panel on this topic.

Digital innovations such as high-speed internet, artificial intelligence, smartphones and social media have dramatically changed the speed, intensity and character of public communication. In addition to many positive effects, this also makes it easier to spread so-called disinformation. This refers to targeted misinformation that is deliberately spread in order to manipulate or deceive people. This increases uncertainty and puts our democracy under pressure. 

‍FORUM AGAINST FAKES - Together for a strong democracy

In order to initiate a Germany-wide debate on how to deal with disinformation, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has conceived a unique participation format in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Mercator Foundation and the Michael Otto Foundation for Sustainability. The aim is to bring together as many citizens as possible to raise awareness of the dangers of disinformation for our democracy and to develop proposals on how best to deal with it.

In addition, concrete recommendations for action are to be formulated for policymakers and institutions. 

An online citizen consultation to develop ideas for dealing with disinformation

In order to involve as many people as possible and achieve the most effective and actionable outcome, the project starts with a massive online consultation in which all citizens are invited to submit proposals, comments and opinions on how to deal with disinformation. 

As a civic tech specialised in massive online citizen participation, was chosen by the Bertelsmann Stiftung to realise this type of participation on its platform. 

From 24 January to 31 March, citizens in Germany are invited to answer the question "Fakes and manipulation of information: what should we do to protect ourselves and our democracy?" by submitting their suggestions on the platform and voting on the proposals of other participants. 

The results of the online citizen participation - especially the focus on proposals that are widely popular - will be particularly valuable for the second phase of the project. A citizens' panel with a diverse group of 120 citizens will work together on the prepared results of the participation and the most important points and develop concrete recommendations for action.

An innovative format for innovative results

The Forum against Fakes project will run until summer 2024. Overall, the dovetailing of online participation with the Citizens' Panel consists of three phases: Firstly, topics, ideas and suggestions relating to the handling of misinformation are collected during online participation, which the Citizens' Panel takes up and works on in its meetings. In the second phase, online participants provide feedback on the ideas developed by the Citizens' Panel. This feedback in turn serves as a source of information for the Citizens' Panel to formulate concrete recommendations. In the final phase, the central recommendations for action are commented on and prioritised online.

Finally, in September 2024, the Citizens' Panel will submit a final report with policy recommendations to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Bertelsmann Stiftung. This Citizens' Report is also addressed to other ministries, parliamentary committees and specialist politicians from the federal and state governments. The Federal Ministry of the Interior will use the policy recommendations contained in the report to develop a strategy for dealing with disinformation.  

Further information about the project is available at