Sinah Busch

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Recognizing fake news and combating hate speech – digital engagement at IFA

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From September 6 to 11, IFA will once more be opening its doors in Berlin to everyone with an interest in technology and innovation. We at Deutsche Telekom will also be there again to provide information, including some exciting workshops relating to digital responsibility. Ahead of the event, Barbara Costanzo, Vice President for Group Social Engagement, filled us in on what visitors can expect and how Deutsche Telekom puts digital responsibility into practice.  

IFA 2019

It’s almost that time again – the chance to admire, test, and experience the latest digital innovation trends. However, there is more to the world’s largest consumer electronics trade fair than exciting insights into the colorful range of products the future might hold. It is also a platform for lively discussions on technological topics. As a digital company, it is important to us that our customers make full use of our products. In addition to our exciting #TAKEPART Festival, our IFA activities will also include a series of daily interactive workshops.

 Young people standing in a circle holding the smartphones in the middle, discussing the contents

Digital democracy means offering every opinion a chance to be heard. This is how to prevent filter bubbles!

Group Social Engagement – what’s it all about?

Taking digital responsibility – Barbara Costanzo, who is leading our digital democracy and media skills activities at IFA, is a passionate advocate of this principle. In her job with Deutsche Telekom, she works closely with various NGOs (non-governmental organizations), foundations, and educational establishments, and would like to encourage people to take a careful look at their own online behavior. “The line between the digital world and real life is blurred. It’s not possible to separate our private lives from our online identities. Digitalization permeates our everyday lives. Thankfully! It brings so many advantages. However, we also have to deal with the flip side and mitigate the negative impacts, especially when our democracy comes under fire.” Costanzo confirms the overall impression that the younger generation in particular adapt to technological advances more quickly. However, in this context she also emphasizes that younger audiences struggle to sufficiently assess the quality of the data and information available to them. This becomes especially problematic when it comes to recognizing negative trends such as fake news. It is therefore all the more important to provide instructions that encourage considered use of media data. Costanzo and her team have already launched exciting online initiatives such as #DABEI-Geschichten and teachtoday that provide plenty of background information, revelations, and guidelines for organizing workshops on a range of topics relating to the online world.

Telekom booth with free space and wall dividers with logo and other information on the sides

Our booth at IFA 2019 glows in the typical Deutsche Telekom magenta.

Come on by and take part in our workshops at IFA

At IFA 2019, Costanzo’s specialist areas will find an offline platform, too. Between noon and 4 p.m. on each day of the trade fair, exciting workshops will be held right at the heart of the world of innovation, with the titles “Digital democracy”, “Banishing trolls”, and “Recognizing fake news”. “The aim of our activities is to raise awareness of digital issues among the visitors, encourage reflection, and try out loads of things on the spot, such as devising a personal strategy for responding to hateful comments,” says Costanzo. Alongside passive consumption of digital media, they also relate to active participation and visibility online. Hate speech – spreading derogatory and misanthropic comments against certain groups – is increasingly becoming an area of focus for digital interaction in this context. “A huge proportion of public figures are subjected to hate speech and are defamed and silenced as a result. This in turn means important opinions that deserve to be heard are removed from the debate, reinforcing filter bubbles,” Costanzo explains. But what is the best way to behave in these all-too-common online situations that we encounter both as targets and as outsiders? Our expert advises civil courage: “It’s important to respond! Often, this is not at all about engaging in a war of words, but rather about speaking up for the silent majority, defending digital democracy, and demonstrating that there are other standpoints, too.” At IFA there will therefore be an opportunity to talk about the “Love Speech” counterinitiative from Gesicht zeigen! (Show face!) and ways of promoting positive language online.

Anyone who would also like to explore the role satire has to play in saving democracy or learn how to ask the state for information should certainly come and visit us in Hall 21a at IFA 2019 – we look forward to seeing you there and discussing a range of viewpoints relating to digital responsibility with you!