2020 opened our eyes to how important the internet has become in our everyday lives: During the coronavirus pandemic, many people found the internet was the only way to communicate with friends and family, to work or attend school from home, or shop. But digital communication also has its downsides: the unchecked spread of fake news and conspiracy theories, as well as the growing hate that many people face online.
For us, media literacy is the key to safe and competent use of digital media. At the same time, we believe that media literacy alone is not enough for peaceful and respectful coexistence in the digital world. For us, media and democratic literacy are inextricably linked. We therefore work to promote opinion-forming and trust, and to combat exclusion and hate speech online through a wide range of projects and initiatives
Action for no hate speech online
In the summer of 2020, we launched our #nohatespeech (#gegenhassimnetz) campaign. Its aim is to set an example and fight for an internet where everyone can #TAKEPART without fear. We also support initiatives that systematically tackle digital exclusion and thereby contribute to improving the situation of as many people as possible. We cooperate with 44 organizations and NGOs that are dedicated to the same goal. With our own measures in connection with online civil courage, we also call on society to support us in this commitment.
In cooperation with Facebook, we installed a Messenger bot in November 2020 to provide more specific help to those affected by hate speech. The bot lets you find the right contact point with just a few clicks – no matter whether you need help directly or want to take action against online hate yourself. Depending on the personal situation, you will be transferred to Juuuport, Nummer gegen Kummer or #ichbinhier, contacts offering advice in conflict and crisis situations.
Promoting online civil courage
In the reporting year, our media literacy initiatives were focused on the topic of online civil courage. How can civil courage work on the internet? What steps can each of us take, and what is already being done to combat hate speech and fake news online? Is counterspeech on the internet effective in making dialog more constructive? And: What role do bots and algorithms play in promoting filter bubbles and the vast reach of hate speech and fake news? We have produced educational material on these topics for target groups aged from 9 to 99.
In 2020, we reached around 18,000 people with snackable content, discussion rounds, and workshops on the topic of online civil courage. In addition, we develop and offer online materials to opinion leaders, which they can use free of charge and without registering. Through these opinion leaders, we were able to reach many more people from all target groups. These numbers are not included in our count.
An example of one of our digital participation initiatives is Magenta Moon. Under the motto “Discover something new”, participants could experience digital education for all from October 17 to November 1, 2020 – online and on site at Leipziger Platz in Berlin.
Its aim was to teach media skills in a playful way. In addition, the initiative developed new ideas and approaches to topics such as digital responsibility, sustainability, and innovation in workshops, talks, and interactive performances. With its varied program, Magenta Moon enabled digital education with equal opportunity for all, regardless of age, gender, and social background. The program will continue in 2021.
The Teachtoday initiative supports children, young people, parents, and grandparents as well as teaching professionals with hands-on tips and materials about safe, proficient media usage. The materials are available at www.teachtoday.de in seven languages (German, English, Croatian, Montenegrin, Polish, Romanian, and Hungarian). In 2020, we also focused on civil courage for this target group with the title “Courage on the internet”.
Digital learning plays a particularly important role in this now that digital schooling and remote learning have become an even bigger part of students’ day-to-day lives. This is why we published and expanded a new digital toolbox on Teachtoday in 2020. The toolbox offers more than 100 formats to promote media and democratic literacy among young people aged 9-16. These include project ideas, video tutorials, exciting quizzes, and brief learning units. It is aimed at learning groups, students, parents, and teachers.
Teachtoday also has its own YouTube channel with short catchy videos about safe, proficient internet use, data protection, and how truthful people are online.
SCROLLER and SCROLLER TV
The SCROLLER children’s media magazine is geared specifically to children aged nine to twelve to improve their media literacy. It is available in both an interactive web version and a free print format. We published the tenth issue, highlighting “Courage on the internet”, in the reporting year.
In 2020, we introduced a new format, SCROLLER TV, aimed at giving children a meaningful and entertaining way to spend their time while at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. SCROLLER-TV offers important topics on media usage from the everyday lives of elementary school children and invites young and old to share experiences. Each topic combines expert interviews, animated films, tips, and do-it-yourself elements into an entertaining piece highlighting competent media use.
Our #TAKEPART stories (#DABEI-Geschichten) initiative addresses socially relevant digitalization topics in a practical way and turns them into opportunities for opinion leaders. The initiative highlights potential for participation and responsible conduct on the internet and aims to encourage a critical discussion about this subject. In this way, the initiative contributes to our #TAKEPART campaign. The team uses didactic formats to develop the content and implement it in the form of innovative modules. The modules are available in German and English, as well as in simplified language. No matter how complex a topic is, we think it’s important to leave it up to the users themselves to decide whether it’s important for them. We ensure appropriate linguistic and didactic preparation of the material.
#TAKEPART stories offer various modules with a focus on civil courage: digital democracy, opinion making on the internet, online civil courage, and other topics from the digital world such as digital friendship and living in the city of the future.
For the past 20 years we have been offering free 16 Mbit/s broadband lines to all general and vocational schools in Germany as part of the „Telekom@School“ initiative. In the fall of last year, around 22,000 schools had taken up this free-of-charge offer. Another 6,000 schools opted for chargeable, higher bandwidth lines, which are sponsored by Deutsche Telekom. We intensified our commitment to connected schools during the reporting year. In addition, we contacted around 17,000 schools to improve their access to modern IT infrastructure. They can now easily increase their internet speed to up to 250 Mbit/s by ordering an upgrade from ADSL to VDSL – which will be free of charge until August 2021. Around 10 percent of these schools have taken up our offer.
Our consultancy subsidiary Detecon supports schools in drawing up media development plans and funding requests. In the reporting year, we launched an educational flat rate for school operators, which receive unlimited data usage for a small monthly fee. In addition, they can equip disadvantaged students with equipment such as tablets or laptops, which are, for example, funded by the DigitalPakt initiative. This gives children and young people the opportunity to learn how to use digital media irrespective of their family background. Our Group Representative for Education has central responsibility for our commitment to schools.
Since the beginning of 2021, we have been working with Microsoft to further boost digital work at schools through a comprehensive digital education package. Under this initiative, we provide laptops or tablets and special education licenses for the Microsoft MS365 software - sometimes free of charge. A team of Deutsche Telekom experts – specially certified by Microsoft – provides the service and helps set up the devices for a fee. Schools can use the MS365 software free of charge if they have an A1 license.
In the United States, T-Mobile is also committed to connecting schools and students. The “Project 10Million” initiative was especially important in 2020 after more than 50 million school children in the US were unexpectedly instructed to begin distance learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of US school districts were able to get students connected with their schools for free thanks to the initiative. T-Mobile worked with school districts, extracurricular programs, and local authorities to offer affordable internet access to more than 2.5 million students nationwide.
In carrying out our social commitment, we not only implement central projects and initiatives, but also encourage the volunteer efforts of our employees. In addition, we provide financial support, for example, by being involved as a sponsor, and supporting projects and non-profit organizations that work for better coexistence and against exclusion.
The national companies carry out independent regional initiatives. We also work closely across national borders when it comes to our social involvement and share experience and best practices. Close cooperation with social players such as NGOs, associations, and initiatives also plays an important role.