Steinmeier at the Republica: "Democratization of the Digital"

Republica 2019

The founder of the digital conference Markus Beckedahl shakes hands with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

(Photo: AP)

BerlinAt the beginning of the digital conference re: publica, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for a more rational and civilized culture of debate on the Internet. He wonders why the political debates that he experiences on the internet "are so often tending to become toxic," said Steinmeier on Monday in his opening speech in Berlin.

"If we care about the future of this democracy, then we have to look after the political culture of debate on the net together." The most pressing task is not the "digitization of democracy, but the democratization of the digital".

In his passionate speech, he appealed to both the "strong civil society" and politics, and especially to the platforms. "After many words and announcements, after talks and photogenic politician appointments, it is time that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & Co. finally take their responsibility for democracy and finally put into action."

Because: "As long as the fast lie and the reputable news, the verified fact and the mere opinion, as long as reason and incitement indiscriminately appear in newsfeeds one after the other, as long as demagogues are too simple. Steinmeier called for "democratic regulations" and concrete measures: "We need crystal-clear seals of origin for information – especially when it comes to political advertising."

Steinmeier also sees society as having the duty: "We have to enforce rules better, yes – but above all, the democratic majority can not be allowed to withdraw and be driven away by the roar of the few."

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