“Disinformation is an attack on the values of democracies” - Federal Foreign Office hosts conference on dealing with disinformation
Panel at the conference “Facts vs. Disinformation: Reassessing threats in a Post-Infodemic World”, © AA
Disinformation and fake news are a global threat. Whether in the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change or – as a very topical and inhumane example – Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, facts are being distorted and untruths spread around the world.
In many liberal democracies, there is a growing awareness of the danger posed by manipulation and disinformation. Today, international experts exchanged views on how to deal with disinformation. The Federal Foreign Office hosted the meeting as part of Germany’s G7 Presidency.
Trust is a precious commodity, and not only in liberal democracies. The attack on trust lies at the heart of large-scale disinformation campaigns. With such campaigns, both countries and private actors attempt to manipulate public opinion, weaken people’s trust in state action and damage social cohesion.
Disinformation spreads rapidly, especially in social media. As distrust in facts grows, it becomes more difficult for members of the public to tell the difference between truth and falsehoods and to participate in the political process with fact-based decisions. Disinformation therefore poses a particular threat to liberal democracies.
Countering disinformation as the G7
Against this backdrop, the conference Facts vs. Disinformation: Reassessing Threats in a Post-Infodemic World honed in on the current and future challenges of disinformation and the ways in which it can be effectively tackled. In addition to attempts to distort the war in Ukraine and its causes, the discussions also focused on the impact of disinformation on climate change, as well as gender-based disinformation and future trends.
Foreign Minister Baerbock said the following at the start of the conference:
It is disinformation that prevents an open debate. It discredits. It suffocates those who hold a different view.
Disinformation is an attack on the very values of our liberal democracies: our openness, our transparency, our ability to debate and to argue fairly and freely.
That’s why all of us who share these values need to work together to respond to this major challenge.