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Digitization is an integral part of democracy today. This is particularly evident in election campaigns, political initiatives, and societal debates that are increasingly being conducted via social media. On Tuesday, 22 June, and Wednesday, 23 June, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences are organizing the virtual symposium “Digitization and Democracy” in order to discuss associated risks, policy options, and trends from a scientific point of view.
The COVID-19 pandemic and related public measures for social distancing have further intensified this trend towards digitization. The virtual space offers new opportunities for democratic participation, but at the same time, there is rising concern for its place and influence in politics and society. Fake news, hate speech, and conspiracy theories are able to sway political opinions and the results of elections, and the power of transnational social networks and platforms is also the subject of many recent public debates.
Speakers from Germany, Israel, and the United States will discuss the topic over four virtual sessions, in an interdisciplinary manner. Among others, computer scientist Shafrira Goldwasser (Berkeley/USA), legal scholar Michael Birnhack (Tel Aviv/Israel) and computer scientist and Leopoldina member Gerhard Weikum (Saarbrücken/Germany) have confirmed their participation.