Create supportive environments & contexts - making the default digital space inclusive and safe

Reduce the power of private platforms by:

Designing new competitive digital media solutions. Disruptive technology is needed to forge an alternative digital future that in turn, facilitates a more democratic internet. This means the creation of platforms offering a different set of affordances (ie not those driven by platform monopolies). Platform cooperatives like Loomio subscription-based models and pro-privacy and non-commercial alternatives are already in use and show some evidence of effectiveness in the literature.

Reduce interference from foreign governments and powers by:

Designing new anti-cybersecurity infrastructure and drawing upon “big datasets’ to review and assess electoral policies. The research in this area is also largely normative, and seems to generally prescribe such infrastructure and reviews will reduce threats to elections and other political processes.

Address surveillance & improve data protection by:

Regulating companies’ information management practices. Some regulatory measures, like the Singaporean Data Protection Act 2012, work to and have been proven effective in bringing formal charges to data mismanagement and abuse.

Making regulatory changes to data privacy policies. However, there is little evidence to suggest that these changes will reduce surveillance/data collection so much as regulate how that data is stored, accessed and used by data collectors and other third parties

Combat fake news by:

Developing and circulating persuasive counter-narratives. The focus would need to be on emotional not rational, appeal. This is proposed but unmeasured.

Overcome filter bubbles/echo chambers by:

Supporting new platform designs with different design affordances

Design affordances ascribe meaning to how to use the digital media tool, for example Facebook has a “friend” button directing the user towards ways of interacting based on mutual agreement, also a “share” button, while Twitter has a “follow” button, open to all people using the platform, directing or suggesting different ways of interacting. The design of these affordances has an impact on inclusion and participation, as well as the types of interactions people experience and information they are exposed to. There is some suggestion that design affordances can reduce the effects of filter bubbles by engaging internet users in more ideologically diverse communities.

Non-commercial platforms like Loomio, for example, afford different modes of interaction based on the features (e.g., tools, interface) and environment (e.g., deliberative; asynchronous) it makes available outside a commercial space. The platform affords an environment of less performative, and thus more considered, dialogue, discussion and debate. The relationship between design and civility on these new platforms has been empirically demonstrated, shown a reduced propensity to engage with similar-minded people encouraged by automated filter bubbles and to move deliberation beyond debate to collective agreement.

Overcoming silencing effects of hate speech by:

Supporting new platform designs with different design affordances. Well-designed, collectively-owned, online deliberative fora like Loomio have been empirically shown to also create a safe environment for marginalised groups.

Research suggests that intentionally building more participatory forms of engagement into platforms might reduce filter bubbles, echo chambers and incivility (particularly on mobile devices), while increasing communication and deliberative processes. Therefore, the act of consciously designing social platforms to engender pro-social forms of engagement can have a demonstrated impact on civility

Improve trust in democracy by:

The creation, selection and use of online platforms that afford citizen participation and deliberation. Some empirical evidence shows that direct and participatory democratic engagement/processes, e-government, and open government improve trusts. International research has found that engaging citizens in deliberative processes often results in profound changes in deliberating citizens’ “frequently in the direction of more common good-oriented policies”, but for them to be effective the systems and platforms used in these deliberative processes must also enable these practices to emerge. The techno-social affordances inherent to different online platforms affect and shape the nature of engagement, deliberation and discussions.

Using digital government processes. Transparent, easy to access and well designed e-government and open government initiatives have been shown to increase positive feelings and citizen trust in local government. Some evidence shows governments that have created usable, intelligible websites, and offer non-exclusionary solutions for those lacking computer and internet access or basic digital literacy skills, have been most successful in their e-government initiatives and constituent satisfaction.