A Nordic approach to democratic debate in the age of Big Tech: Recommendations from the Nordic Think Tank for Tech and Democracy

Tobias Bornakke, Anja Bechmann, Bente Kalsnes, Carl Heath, Elfa Ýr Gylfadóttir, Fredrik Granlund, Hanna Haaslahti, Jákup Brúsá, Martin Holmberg, Minna Aslama Horowitz, Signe Ravn-Højgaard, Sumaya Jirde Ali, Thorgeir Ólafsson

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportRapportRådgivning


Online platforms of Big Tech companies such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter have become integral democratic infrastructure. They allow people to connect across the world, new communities to arise and are a popular source of information. In addition to all their positive potential, however, online platforms and their algorithmic functions may cause serious harm to our democracies and public debate.
Hate speech online may lead certain groups in society to withdraw from public debate, and the spread of mis- and disinformation threatens open, transparent and factual democratic debate and can fuel polarisation. Content moderation is known to be minimal in smaller languages such as the Nordics
and thus emphasises a greater need to focus on these problems, especially for vulnerable groups such as children and youth. However, since public scrutiny is often actively counteracted by the platforms, most of the insight we have into the workings of these platforms is from leaks from former employees of the companies.
Our vision for the Nordics is to be a united techdemocratic region, with thriving citizens and open and informed public debate taking place across different spaces. We want the Nordics to have vigilant public oversight over democratic infrastructure, building resilience to already strong Nordic public spheres.
The Nordic countries share similar cultures and long-standing democratic values that provide an opportunity for strengthening our democracies even when they take increasingly place online.
With this background, the Nordic Think Tank for Tech and Democracy proposes the following Nordic recommendations to protect and strengthen the democratic debate in the age of Big Tech:
1A. Establish a Nordic Centre for Tech and Democracy to support the enforcement of European tech regulation, share experiences and develop new policies.
2A. Protect the well-being and safety of children and youth online and push for more general control for citizens.
2B. Establish an online hub for knowledge exchange on digital literacy.
3A. Support the volunteers who facilitate online communities where democratic debate unfolds.
3B. Promote the innovation and implementation of technology that supports open digital public debate to create alternatives to large online platforms.
4A. Give public service media a strong digital mandate for online presence, content creation and development of platforms for democratic debate online.
4B. Step up support for independent fact-checkers.
4C. Push for better content moderation in the Nordics.
4D. Initiate a Nordic task force to oppose the risks to democracy from disinformation generated by artificial intelligence.
5A. Support access to platform data and algorithms for independent researchers.
5B. Commission a biennial report on the state of Nordic digital democracies.
ForlagNordic Council of Ministers
Antal sider39
Rekvirerende organisationNordisk Ministerråd
StatusUdgivet - 18 apr. 2023

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