Anheier on Silencing Dangerous Conspiracy Theories

Adjunct Professor of Social Welfare Helmut Anheier co-authored a Project Syndicate opinion piece arguing that social media and other digital channels have changed the way conspiracy theories are consumed and distributed — and that the only way to counter them is to use the same technologies. The far-right QAnon and other groups espousing conspiratorial thinking use social media to disseminate unfiltered ideas at no cost, wrote Anheier and Andrea Roemmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin. Disinformation has “always been part of the warp and woof of politics,” they wrote, but “rarely have political debates been so unmoored from widely accepted truths as they are today.” This has led to violent and extremist actions and undermined confidence in experts and institutions, they wrote. To combat the threat, they call for a professional, nonpartisan, nongovernmental “conspiracy monitor” empowered to scour sites and social media feeds, identify dangerous messages and initiate action to block content. 

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