WS 08 2019

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Consolidated programme 2019 overview

Title: Fending off trolls – Journalists in defence of democracy

Proposals assigned to this session: ID 7, 26, 33, 51, 55, 82, 84, 99, 120, 121, 190 – list of all proposals as pdf

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Session information

Date: Thursday, 20 June 2019 (Day 2)

Time: 11:00 - 12:30 (CET)

Room: TBD

Venue: World Forum The Hague, The Netherlands

Session teaser

To secure and strengthen democracy in the digital age, sustainable, high-quality journalism is the first line of defense.

Session description

Around the world, democracy is facing new challenges – many of which are exacerbated by new technologies. The 2019 Freedom in the World report, published by Freedom House, found that 2018 was the 13th consecutive year of deteriorating freedoms around the globe. Furthermore, the 2018 Freedom on the Net report from Freedom House finds that “the internet is growing less free around the world, and democracy itself is withering under its influence.”

In fact, the free Internet that we have known is now under a two-front attack. On the one hand, digital authoritarianism is rising. Not only are countries that have always wanted to maintain total control of expression perfecting their grip of what they call their souveign “information space,” but also exporting their approach and methods, along with the necessary technologies, to other, mostly developing countries. This is only compounded by the fact that press freedom, intrinsic to ensuring societies are accountable, transparent, and informed, continues to decline globally. On the other hand, there is a worrying development in what could be called the “free Internet world.” The polite word is “consolidation,” less politically correct words could be concentration, dominant market position, or monopoly de facto. Worrying in themselves, but especially because of the negative phenomena that the business models of the giant platforms have enabled and encouraged: disinformation that sells better than real, investigative reporting, hate speech, and operations that influence politics and elections across frontiers.

These online harms do limit freedom of expression just by themselves. We have examples of journalists, even in Finland – a country that tops global freedom rankings, whom dark forces are trying to intimidate by using tactics of online violence – and sometimes enticing to real-life ones. But even more, when these online harms have grown to the level of threatening the fabric and processes of societies themselves, governments feel obliged to act and start regulating “the Internet.” If that is done in an atmosphere of panic and without defining the exact object of regulation among the many layers of the Internet, much damage can be done.

As a workshop that feeds into Workshop 12 and Plenary 7, WS 8 will focus on the damages that automated systems (like algorithms, trolls, bots, etc.) could provoke within the public debate in digital societies through social media and how this could be addressed by journalists, news media, and institutions in a common effort to make the public debate healthier and less susceptible to dis/misinformation. Especially in time of elections, that are the crucial moment where citizens need fact-based, high-quality information to make informed decisions rather than emotional or misleading approach. It will also highlight the role of the media in strengthening democracy and how new information and communications technologies both help and harm that goal.

An analysis of what happened during the 2019 EU Elections (held just three weeks before EuroDIG 2019) made by a representative of the European Commission, along with analysis of the effectiveness of the counter measures put in place to prevent harmful interferences could be the testbed for the discussion. The same analysis could be also be made for other recent cases, such Ukraine and Finland. The session will seek to highlight how other interferences in democracy, such as cyberattacks against journalists and the very sustainability that threatens public access to high-quality information, can be tackled and better pursued in order to protect the integrity of journalistic work. An example could be the case of the first conviction of harassment against a Finnish journalist who had earned the hatred of trolls by investigating and exposing their major operation.

Last but not least, the workshop could also bring other examples of what news media, journalism support, and media development organisations are doing to reduce these risks, and to discuss how the recent EU Copyright Directive could eventually contribute to create a better environment for resilient and reliable media and journalism, online and offline.



Further reading


Focal Point

  • Michael J. Oghia, Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)
  • Nadia Tjahja, Youth Coalition on Internet Governance, Steering Committee Member (WEOG & EEG)

Organising Team (Org Team) List them here as they sign up.

  • Nika Bakhsoliani
  • Yohko Hatada, EMLS RI (Evolution of Mind Life Society Research Institute)
  • Narine Khachatryan, STEM Society
  • Charalampos Kyritsis, YouthDIG Organiser
  • Giacomo Mazzone, EBU-UER European Broadcasting Union
  • Elena Perotti, Executive Director of Media Policy and Public Affairs, WAN-IFRA
  • Nebojsa Regoje, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bosnia and Herzegovina / MAG IGF Member

Key Participants

  • Silvio Mascagna, member of the cabinet of EU Commissioner King – in charge of the the security of elections
  • Vitaliy Moroz, Internews Ukraine
  • Giacomo Mazzone, EBU
  • Małgorzata Pęk, Council of Europe
  • Max Senges, Google


Leon Willems (Free Press Unlimited)

Remote Moderator

Trained remote moderators will be assigned on the spot by the EuroDIG secretariat to each session.


  • Marco Lotti, Geneva Internet Platform

The Reporter takes notes during the session and formulates 3 (max. 5) bullet points at the end of each session that:

  • are summarised on a slide and presented to the audience at the end of each session
  • relate to the particular session and to European Internet governance policy
  • are forward looking and propose goals and activities that can be initiated after EuroDIG (recommendations)
  • are in (rough) consensus with the audience

Current discussion, conference calls, schedules and minutes

The WS O8 organising team held our first call on 21 March 2019. A summary of that call is available here.

We held our second online meeting on 3 April 2019, and decided to work collaboratively via a Google Doc. Please see that document for notes and more information as well as our mailing list archive for additional information.

We held a call on 14 May 2019 to discuss key participants, the summary of which is available here


A short summary of the session will be provided by the Reporter.

Video record

Will be provided here after the event.


Will be provided here after the event.[[Category:Media and content 2019]