However, public debate faces a number of interconnected challenges and dangers, exacerbated by the rapid digitization of society, such as the proliferation of disinformation, the rise of online and offline violence, the decline in trust in democratic institutions, and the fragmentation and polarization of opinions, creating a breeding ground for populism and extremism. Also facilitated by digital technologies, growing restrictions on civil society space and tightening media laws are observed in many backsliding democracies and authoritarian regimes, which are experiencing an upsurge in propaganda, surveillance, and censorship.
Combined, these intensifying trends not only threaten the quality of public debate, but its very possibility. Thus, to encourage open and constructive public debate that promotes understanding and dialogue rather than division and conflict, the Foundation is committed to:
- Support the vital role of public interest journalism in stimulating and informing public debate;
- Strengthen civil society organizations in their efforts to create a healthy digital public space that allows for safe, fair, and inclusive public debate in the digital realm.