While the role of social media’s impact on elections and democratic discourse is widely discussed, evidence is needed to understand how it happens, and how regulation should respond.
We believe an evidence-based and inclusive understanding of the threats and vulnerabilities should be the basis of effective solutions. More evidence is needed to understand how online disinformation, hate speech, inauthentic behaviour, targeted political advertising, platform design and algorithms can infer on democratic discourse. With our offices and projects around the globe, we produce studies and reports on how social media influences public discourse and elections from a global perspective. We look at issues like political disinformation, hate speech, inauthentic behaviour, political advertising, platform design and algorithms.
Research and analysis:
To shed light on online interference in democratic discourse and electoral processes, DRI conducts social media monitoring of political events and elections through its Country Offices, or with partners on the ground.
Tools and methodologies:
- The Digital Democracy Monitor: A user-friendly online toolkit on how to monitor public online discourse, including
- The Digital Democracy Risk Assessment: a framework for a data-driven evaluation of disinformation risks in a given context before elections
- A guide for monitoring gender representation online
- A scoping report: a collection of best practices and case studies for monitoring social media during elections
Training and capacity building:
We provide trainings and capacity building for partner organisations and researchers. Between 2018 and 2020, DRI trained 30 civil society organisations across the world on elections and social media.
Better policy and regulation:
Our reports and analysis feed into our advocacy work for better regulation. We bring researchers, civil society, policymakers and think tanks together to discuss and inform regulatory efforts to safeguard a democratic debate online.
In 2020, we focused on the EU’s proposed Digital Services Act and the European Democracy Action Plan, which will determine how online platforms will be regulated in the EU, and likely set the stage beyond.
- We convened experts to offer recommendations to policymakers in Brussels, alongside submitting responses to EU public consultations.
- Our Knowledge Hub tracks the various approaches EU member states have taken to address online hate speech and disinformation so far, and we analysed these trends.
Researching new online threats and opportunities:
Scanning the horizon for new threats, we also provided recommendations on the risks posed by deepfakes to the EU’s Horizontal Working Party on Enhancing Resilience and Countering Hybrid Threats.