– a risk to
Thanks to online petitions and digital voting systems, it has become easier to form an opinion and actively engage in politics. Unfortunately, the internet also makes it just as easy to manipulate other people’s views. Hate speech and fake news that spread quickly on the web pose a risk to our democracy.
Hate divides society
The internet is increasingly being misused to marginalize or intimidate certain people. Attacks are often aimed at things like a person’s skin color, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, disability, or religion. Alternatively, people might be targeted because they belong to a certain section of society or because they have a particular job. Yet political viewpoints are targeted, too. Attempts are made to stop anyone who thinks differently from expressing themselves, and many people pull back because they feel unable to cope with such huge pressure. Of course, that is exactly what their attackers want. If they can silence others, then it appears as if their opinion is the only one that counts. And, as you would expect, this eliminates key perspectives from debates. This is how extreme political ideologies can spread, and that is a threat to our democracy.
Deutsche Telekom’s brand promise is “Life is for sharing”. Our aim is to harness digitalization to promote a feeling of community. This responsibility means far more to us than simply ensuring data protection and data security. We give as many people as possible access to the web and to education. And we’re passionately committed to improving the population’s media literacy. These are key prerequisites for ensuring digitalization inspires democracy rather than restricting it.
SDG 4 - Inclusive and equitable quality education
Our measures support the fourth goal of the United Nations Agenda 2030.
Stamping out hate speech on the web
In collaboration with 44 partners, we are campaigning for an online world that people can navigate with confidence without having to fear marginalization. As part of these efforts, we primarily focus on online civil courage. We want to raise awareness and encourage people to take a stand. That is why we kick-started #TAKEPART – No hate speech. In 2020, the campaign reached over 340 million people in Germany.
With our diverse range of media literacy programs and communications campaigns, we reached more than 15 million people in 2020 alone.
Project ideas for children and young people
Our media literacy initiative „Teachtoday“ offers parents and teachers content on our chosen key topics. In this way, we are helping them introduce children and young people to complex issues. Content centering around codetermination on the web, for example, addresses the topic of digital democracy and teaches children how they can actively shape society. Content focused on being brave online examines the topic of online civil courage for younger target groups. There is also a project that teaches students how to argue their point of view respectfully in an online debate, among other things. Our “SCROLLER” media magazine also examines our chosen key topics for the target group of nine- to twelve-year-olds.
Written and spoken content on digital democracy
In addition to telling the story of an assassination that gave birth to democracy, the “My vote counts” issue of We Care also explains why Grandpa always reads two newspapers, why voting is the smartest form of protest, and what could happen if Europe collapses. It shows how everyone can effectively help shape politics on the web.
In our CR report, we also focus on current issues such as online hate.
As part of our podcast series Culture for Breakfast, we have released two episodes on online civil courage and online hate. Especially the former met with huge interest, racking up some 80,000 downloads in the second six-month period following its release.
What shows the way?
If a breakthrough in technology changes our lives, we need to agree on a new set of rules. The new traffic regulations that were required when cars became widespread over 100 years ago are just one example. As such, trends like digitalization are neither positive nor negative to begin with, but neutral. It is up to us to shape them responsibly. That is why we need new rules for the internet, too. These cannot be dictated by individuals. They must be established jointly. We are keen to contribute to this process.
In the “Digital Responsibility” section of our corporate website, we discuss the challenges and opportunities of the digital world with experts. In 2018, we joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and five other companies as founding members of the „Corporate Digital Responsibility“ initiative.
We were also one of the first companies in the world to establish self-binding guidelines for working ethically with artificial intelligence. And because we are aware that this can only be the first step, we are continuously refining these guidelines in consultation with experts and stakeholders.
SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
Our network expansion measures support the ninth goal of the United Nations Agenda 2030.