How to overcome digital threats to democracy


Deliberative democracy practices should be introduced to give ordinary citizens more influence over the regulation of digital platforms, a new Lowy Institute Policy Brief proposes.

The report by Lowy Institute Research Fellow Lydia Khalil, entitled Overcoming digital threats to democracy, shows digital platforms, including social media, have contributed to an erosion of democracy.

But average digital users have few opportunities to influence key decisions about the regulation of the platforms they use.

Instead, power is concentrated in the hands of a small number of businesses, politicians and regulators.

The report argues that the legitimacy and quality of digital platforms can be improved using deliberative democracy practices.

This includes convening small groups of citizens, who carefully consider different ideas and perspectives, to judge regulation and legislation.

“Deliberative democracy is a model that can help citizens, governments and tech companies work through competing values and trade-offs in a way that increases the legitimacy of decisions,” Khalil writes.

“Incorporating the principles and practices of deliberative democracy in policy formulation, decision-making, and platform design will produce better ways of addressing the digital challenges to democracy.”

The Policy Brief is available to read and download at the Lowy Institute website.

Andrew Griffits
Head of Media and Communications