Bürger, Suchverfahren und Analyse-Algorithmen in der politischen Meinungsbildung

»Information literacy for a functioning democracy in the post-truth era«

Serap Kurbanoǧlu | Hacettepe University Ankara, Turkey

This video is part of the session »Information literacy for a functioning democracy in the post-truth era« in the conference on »Information Literacy and Democracy« 19th and 20thJune 2020.

The live session takes places on June 20th at 01.15 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST). If you want to join the live session, please send us an e-mail to infodem (at) uni-hildesheim.de.

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You are cordially invited to discuss here. In this way, it is possible to provide feedback and pose statements and questions even before the live event.

Possible areas for discussion can be:

  • What is your opinion about the topic?
  • What risks do you see in terms of emotions and opinion-forming?
  • What do you think why being information literate is important in a post-truth era?
  • How does the post-truth era influence democracy?
  • Do you feel like living in a post-truth era where emotions are playing a higher role than objective facts? Are there any examples?
  • What are your questions, and what other aspects are important to you?

13 Kommentare

  1. Anonymous Guest

    “Post-truth politics” is a danger to a functioning democracy. A democracy only functions if information from politicians is conveyed truthfully and verifiably. Citizens, in turn, need information literacy in order to understand and classify the background and origin of the information. Due to a lack of information competence, fake news and false statements are quickly believed and spread. When politicians conduct post-truth politics, they reduce the truth content of the information in order to reach people emotionally. Here, for example, the government of Donald Trump is repeatedly criticized (see article by S. Spoelstra). A possible consequence of post-truth politics is the emergence of conspiracy theories, which, for example during the “Covid19-period”, have negative effects on the credibility of politicians on the one hand and on the handling of information on the other hand. However, citizens with a low level of information literacy “help” these conspiracy theories to feel better for some time. But this should not be the focus of information. Information should be well-researched, truthful and verifiably communicated. Information is facts that inform about something, not emotional messages. This makes it all more important to support all citizens in a democracy in acquiring information literacy.

    I am looking forward to the presentation and the subsequent discussion on this topic.

    S. Spoelstra (2019): Donald Trump’s was on facts is the latest play in a long-established tradition to create a post-truth reality. Internet: https://theconversation.com/donald-trumps-war-on-facts-is-the-latest-play-in-a-long-established-tradition-to-create-a-post-truth-reality-125755 (last call 16.06.2020).

  2. Raika Horstmann

    As Immanuel Kant said: ‘Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence’. I think that in the times we live in, this attitude is again very important to have. As stated, often people have very little time to make decisions about things like politics, elections and all the other important topics that are going on around the world. As a result they could choose simpler and thus less reliable rules for making choices. But the point is, that a functioning democracy can only be build on the individuals having access to quality Information. If information is not trustworthy the people need to have the ability to tell right form wrong and not just choose the wrong one because it is simpler and prompts more emotions.
    In my opinion it is alarming that it’s no secret that politicians use the fact that people rather choose personal beliefs and emotions than objective facts and that so little has been done to contain this issue. I know the Fact Check on Twitter but how about for example Instagram or Facebook, how exactly is it handled on these platforms?

    I am looking forward to the discussion.

  3. Jana Schrand

    In a democracy the people have the power, but to use this power in a right way, they need true information. In the “post-truth society” though, where the objective facts are less important then their emotions and fake news go viral in a easy and fast way, their decisions and votings could be dangerous. Especially during political campaigns, qualitative information are essential. Unfortunately at that time period, the people have a lot of information but not enough time go through and check what they see.
    I think it is scary, that these people consequently could go to more easier information and trust their personal emotions more then valid information. Another good example in the video was the current situation – covid 19. Fake news are everywhere in the internet and become a real problem.
    Especially social media or blogs are the main source for information, people could trust “influencers” more then real facts.
    In my opinion, it is alarming, where fake news can lead to. So I guess it is good start, that social media platforms try to go against it.

    I think this point, the prevention, is very interesting and important. We heard about technical attempts, but are there maybe any attempts for teaching the youth? Maybe in School or even University. To make them aware for the consequence.

    I am looking forward to the live discussion.

    • Jana Schrand

      * a good start

  4. Anonymous Guest

    People have less and less time and therefore often directly trust information they read regardless of the source or correctness. Only because they have not enough time go through and check what they see. The amount of information and information channels also lead to the fact that fake news are created and disseminated quickly.
    Especially when this information is mixed with emotions.
    For a functioning democracy, however, it is extremely important that citizens receive information from the public and from politicians and that they are conveyed truthfully and verifiably.
    Politicians know that in the election campaign it is important what information is given to the citizens. But in fact, it is clear that they are manipulating them. The citizens only have to be aware of this.
    Especially post-truth politics are largely framed by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy.
    So Information literacy is very important for the discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued and the use of information in creating new knowledge. People need to be able to identify what is real and relevant not just for themselves but also for others, for the society, life and work.
    A democracy can only work and be build on the individuals having access to quality information and the knowledge to deal with it properly.
    I think it is humanly that for every information a person also has a specific emotions. It is only important not to change or influence the information through the emotion. The opinion about it can be changed but not the facts itself.

    Looking forward to the presentation and the discussion on this topic!

  5. Dora Sales

    Thank you for this clear and thought-provoking presentation!

  6. Anonym

    The term and concept of “post-truth era” is indeed interesting and important to understand.

    The mentioned topics are nowadays more important than ever. We live in a digitalized world where it is very easy to gain access to information and news and also share them with a large number of people. Emotionally shared content reaches often more people than objectively and neutral shared content. So the question is if there is actual a proper way to stop e.g. fake news and conspiracy theories which can harm democratic procedures and the democracy as well.

    I think the differentiation between misinformation and disinformation ist very important. At first sight, disinformation seems more serious because people share delibaretely false information in order to make people believe their opinion or to harm e.g. certain parties. But when people know who shares the disinformation and who or which platform is the source of the disinformation, there is a chance that people notice the false information and ignore it. But when people start sharing misinformation, they might get these from sources they normally trust and believe what they read whithout questioning the source.

    A suggestion is that responsible persons respektively participants like websites, social media sites, search engines etc. can be supported by parties or other institutions and can offer tools like fact-checker or other tools. The shared information which is doubtful could be marked with short descriptions why it is considered doubtful. Also links can guide to websites which inform about the topic objectively and neutral. YouTube and Twitter has some tools which go this way, an example: When you watch a video on german YouTube about Covid-2019, you will find a short description below the videos with links to google and the “Federal Center of Healt Education” of Germany. So the viewers get the chance to inform themselfs on serious and official sites. But this could be expanded e.g. by involving more platforms.

    This topic is really interesting and there are many fields to talk about.

  7. Gülden Coskun

    Dear Mrs. Kurbanoglu,

    first of all i want to thank you for the very interesting presentation about information literacy in relation to a functioning democracy in the post-truth era. For me, it became very clear that “post-truth politics” can be very harmful for nowadays society. Due to the current situation that we users have access to so many different sources of information, it is difficult to find the right “true” source of an information. Because of the fast and widespread fake news e.g. politicians can reach citizens on an emotional basis and can influence them regarding e.g. elections. So what I especially learned from your presentation is that a functioning democracy should let citizens and users have access to well-researched information and to the real origin and that people should definitely not believe everything they read, even it is from a person with a high position. I also liked the reference you did to the current situation of covid-19. This example highlighted your arguments and made a very good point of view, how people can be influenced of fake news.

    An interesting and related article is from Catalina Gonzalez-Cabrera (and others), who states out media literacy in relation to fake information in social platforms. An interesting web source is from Lane Wilkinson, who refers to post-truth and information literacy.

    Gonzalez-Cabrera, Catalina; Ugalde, Cecilia; Figueroa, Carlos; Jorge Pesantez (2019): The impact of media literacy on the intention to share fake information in social networks. In: EDULEARN19 Proceedings. 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. Spain: Palma.

    Wilkinson, Lana (2016): Post-truth and information literacy. Online available: https://senseandreference.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/post-truth-and-information-literacy/ (accessed: 01.07.2020).

    • Gülden Coskun

      *An interesting and related article is from Catalina Gonzalez-Cabrera (and others), who states out media literacy in relation to fake information in social platforms. The authors states out that on social network news are spread more often without its veracity. These news are more based on the interest instead of the quality of the content. Another interesting web source is from Lane Wilkinson, who refers to post-truth and information literacy. She especially points out, that sometimes people need to question the truth or falsity of what we read and the people need to acknowledge that “the rhetoric of “truth” is masking something unsavory” (Wilkinson, 2016).

  8. Büsra Ürker

    Dear Ms. Kurbanoǧlu,

    thanks again for your great presentation about the topic “Information literacy for a functioning democracy in the post-truth era”.

    I think that nowadays people pay less attention to what they believe and what they do not believe. The critical questioning, especially among the younger generations, is very weak and has room for improvement. Our world is overloaded with so much information especially in the online age and social networking sites. Sometimes this can really overwhelm you. The question of whether there is enough time to question and filter information is in this case highly relevant.
    A functioning democracy is a prerequisite for critical thinking, because we, the citizens, receive information from politicians on a daily basis and want it to be conveyed truthfully and verifiably. So, democracy can only function if individuals have access to high quality information.

    Besides the lively discussion gave me many impulses. Some interesting points of discussion I could gather were: How could prevention look like for our society to question more critically? What could the government do? How can we teach young people in critical thinking? How can fake news be managed in other social media platforms (e.g. collaborations with influencers, word of mouth)? Is democracy neutral? Is managing fake news impossible/possible (e.g. Machine Learning Algorithm like they use it for “hate speech”)?

    While researching the last topic I found the article “Automatic deception detection: Methods for finding fake news” (Conroy 2016). The paper deals with methods to prevent fake news. It provides a typology of several varieties of veracity assessment methods, e.g. linguistic cue approaches (with machine learning) which was also discussed in the live discussion. That means the content of deceptive messages is extracted and analyzed to associate speech patterns with deception. This method can prevent certain content from being distributed and thus reduce fake news.

    Another author has dealt with the issue of democracy and critical thinking and point out the importance of democratic learning processes (Benesch 1993, 546 f.). The author emphasizes that in schools where critical thinking takes place, students are encouraged to participate actively and to address issues that are relevant to their daily lives, such as work, school, housing and marriage, as subjects for review in class. This kind of teaching of critical thinking must be learned at an early age and have to be accessible for them.


    Conroy, Nadia; Rubin, Victoria; Chen, Yimin (2016): Automatic deception detection: Methods for finding fake news. Online available: https://asistdl.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/pra2.2015.145052010082 (30.06.2020)

    Benesch, Sarah (1993): Critical Thinking: A Learning Process for Democracy. Online available: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3587485?casa_token=yWjKwIE3hsoAAAAA%3AUfRHAqbNbHNFs14abIqEDVY9bhRprVsQnN4op6kzNmhe_VLlOVazVnU7Uj2PYvSRgfa-uvdvFZyIDckQ7xEL5RuC4BM7uRuP3V9SEpeZkRRELQirZM8&seq=3#metadata_info_tab_contents (30.06.2020)

  9. Hannah Mitera

    First of all, thank you very much for your interesting presentation and also the great discussion at the conference, which I enjoyed very much. There where many interesting aspects in the session and I have learned many new things but there where two points that where particularly interesting for me, so I want to point them out here.
    When talking about the risks of fake news and misinformation, you gave several examples where this led to serious in history. While hearing this, I immediately thought of the more recent events of US-president Trumps statements on the coronavirus crisis and possible treatments. I have looked up one specific article, written by Rogers, Hauser, Yuhas and Haberman (2020) that deals with Trump’s statement about options of injecting disinfectant. In this article, many aspects of the distribution of misinformation become evident. Most important are the dangers that come with such ideas and could harm people, which is why many companies and institutions published statements that where opposing the president’s statements. It also shows the risks coming with the distribution of fake news, since the president in fact did not tell the people to drink disinfectant but it could be perceived in this way when the statement is shortened or published out of context. As a third aspect, I want to point out the split between “my truth” and “your truth” which becomes also very clear in this article, where both parties accuse the other one of spreading fake news while believing in their own statements and intentions behind it.
    Also very interesting was the part about filter bubbles and the risks behind those. When researching about this concept, I came across some articles that doubted the strong influence of filter bubbles, so perhaps this has to be seen critically, but I also found an interesting article by Bozdag and van den Hoven (2015) where they presented various algorithms that intend to work against filter bubbles and showed how those algorithms where connected to different understandings of democracy. The authors stated, that the existing algorithms almost exclusively address liberal or deliberative models of democracy and that there is much more work in the field needed where also the designers’ understanding of democracy needs to be included and the construction of tools should be widened to also cover agonism and contestatory democracy and also provide spaces for minorities’ opinions for example.
    Bozdag, E. & van den Hoven, J. (2015): Breaking the filter bubble: democracy and design. Ethics and Information Technology, 17, pp. 249–265. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10676-015-9380-y.pdf (last retrieved: 30.06.2020).
    Rogers, K.; Hauser, C.; Yuhas, A. & Haberman, M. (2020): Trump’s Suggestion That Disinfectants Could Be Used to Treat Coronavirus Prompts Aggressive Pushback. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/24/us/politics/trump-inject-disinfectant-bleach-coronavirus.html (last retrieved: 30.06.2020).

  10. Tayfun Cakmak

    The presentation and discussion deals with several interesting and important topics, thank you for this input.
    As you point out, information literacy is a fundamental component of a functioning democratic system. People choose a party or vote for a president based on their knowledge and information they have respectively they got. But this knowledge and information doesn’t come out of nowhere, they come from other people like friends, family and even strangers in the internet and politicians. So people need to get correct information in order to be well informed about specific topics and to vote for those who fits best their expectations. But disinformation, misinformation and fake news disrupt this procedure and have influence on the information literacy of the people.

    In order to counteract this issue, you suggest improving “critical thinking skills” so everyone is able to decide for himself whether he or she believes the information or not, question the given information critically and fact-check them. Georgiadou et al. (2018) describe a similar approach and point out – as you do – that the best strategy for dealing with fake news, misinformation and disinformation is the development of critical thinking and critical literacy within formal education. In their investigation, they figured out that while in some universities critical thinking is an integral part among the students, other institutions (e.g. of the authors of the paper) are in need for developing such skills and greater awareness of the problems created in the post-truth-era. Georgiadou et al. suggest that whenever universites introduce new programmes of study (degrees or diplomas), Critical Literacy modules should be introduced as part of the new modules.

    While Georgiadou et al. focus on young adults and adults (university students), you go one step further and say that these skills should be taught in an early phase when people are younger (e.g. in the school, through news literacy and with topics they are interested in). But sometimes there is no opportunity for the young people to learn these skills, e.g. because of (weak) educational systems or a situation like now – a pandemic in witch students mostly have to stay at home.

    For cases like this, Siddarth Kulkarni (2020) suggests an interesting solution: parents can help developing their children’s critical thinking skills like analyzing, problem solving and decision making. He underlines that parents need to provide relevant and age-appropriate information to their children so they can learn the skills more easily. One approach is using games to reach the children and playing with them collaboratively instead of letting them on their own. According to Kulkarni, the fact that children trust their parents makes the whole process more easy and effective. It can be seen critically that not every parent might be able to teach critical thinking skills or provide an appropriate environment (e.g. because of lack of time, knowledge etc.), but certain books and guidelines can support them and help them on their way. The current situation shows that not only e.g. teachers or librarians should teach critical thinking skills, but also parents and other persons respectively organisations who get in touch with the children. Therefore information literacy has to appear in a much broader framework.

    Georgiadou, Elli; Rahanu, Harjinder; Siakas, Kerstin; McGuiness, Claire; Edwards, J. Adam; Hill, Vanessa; Khan, Nawaz; Kirby, Padraig; Cavanagh, Jerald; Knezevic, Ratko (2018): Fake News and Critical Thinking in Information Evaluation. In: Western Balkan Information Literacy Conference WBILC 2018, 21-22 June 2018, Bihac, Bosia and Herzegovina. Online available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325930497_Fake_News_and_Critical_Thinking_in_Information_Evaluation (31.08.2020)

    Kulkarni, Siddharth (2020): Parenting: The Critical Thinking at Home. Kalkota: Power Publishers.

  11. Daniela Hofmann

    Dear Mrs. Kurbanoǧlu,

    your presentation contained in my opinion one of the most interesting topics and discussions of the entire online conference. Thank you for the input and the added value you gave us!

    The topic “Information literacy for a functioning democracy in the post-truth era” is in general very interesting and gives many insightful approaches. In the presentation and during the live discussion it was explained that information literacy is of vital importance for a well functioning democracy. People are influenced by information, regardless of whether it is factually true or whether it is so-called fake news. It is therefore of great importance that people have information literacy, because only with sufficient information literacy they can distinguish factual information from fake news.

    Nicole Cooke explains in her very interesting article that one should always critically examine news and information, because there is a lot of fake news. She also explains the approach of the emotional dimension of information behavior, which was also a topic in the live discussion. Another interesting book is Kitz and Dalkirs “Navigating Fake News, alternative facts, and misinformation in a post-truth world.” It is explained that emotional and personal beliefs are nowadays more influencing than factual information.

    Cooke, Nicole (2018): Fake News and alternative Facts. Information Literacy in a post-truth era. Online available under: https://literariness.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Literariness.org-Nicole-A.-Cooke-Fake-News-and-Alternative-Facts_-Information-Literacy-in-a-Post-Truth-Era-ALA-Editions-2018.pdf. (last access: 27.09.2020)

    Dalkir, Kimiz; Katz, Rebeca (2020): Navigating Fake News, alternative facts, and misinformation in a Post-Truth World. IGI Global.

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