Marju Lauristin

Democracy, Truth and the Perils of Information Age

Jakub Kalensky and Marju Lauristin discuss the implications of disinformation on democratic societies in this #KAPTalks. Watch it below.

Wednesday 06.12.2017

In today’s world, new digital tools and the global reach of social media platforms have brought along a transformation of lifestyles: we order goods and services by a few clicks in an app, we rely on GPS to take us home, we prefer online sources to newspapers, and we rely on instant messages and social media to keep up with the lives of relatives, colleagues and friends. This requires us to be constantly available online, ready to receive and make sense of endless flows of information. We have come to lead our entire lives online and this has made us vulnerable.

While the perils of information age have been known for a long time, recent debates have focused on the viability of democracy in an age where everyone can easily create and disseminate information on a mass scale. The problem of “post-truth” is aggravated by the borderless world of the internet and the global reach of social media platforms. Democratic societies have limited tools to counter the threats posed by disinformation, lies and propaganda. How to control the spread of disinformation without restricting democratic principles? How to distinguish between trustworthy and non-trustworthy sources of information? How to ensure that people, the supreme sovereign, base their political decisions on information that bears at least some semblance to reality?

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Marju Lauristin is an Estonian politician and a former Minister of Social Affairs and Member of the European Parliament.  Together with Edgar Savisaar, in 1988 Lauristin established  the first large-scale independence movement in Estonia. She was the minister of Social Affairs of Estonia, and a member of Estonia parliament from 1992 – 2014. In 2014, she was elected to the European Parliament and joined the Parliament's special committees created to investigate the Luxleaks scandal and the Panama Papers scandal in 2016, respectively. Lauristin left the European Parliament in October 2017, following the adoption of the e-Privacy Regulation that she had drafted. She was elected to the City Council of Tartu and is a professor of Social communication at Tartu University.

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