The growing role of social media in the EU citizens’ engagement and democracy

Breakfast debate


Citizens' political participation, as well as free and fair elections are the heart of every democratic system. Digitisation has brought clear gains for democracy as citizens have more means than ever to engage with their political representatives as well as seek expression and information online.

However, we also face sophisticated, well-funded adversaries who are spreading misinformation and interfering with elections, posting divisive content and disinformation to sow mistrust and drive people apart. The debate about the role of social media in the democratic processes has increased significantly in the past couple of years, with numerous concerns being raised. These are often difficult, societal challenges that have to be addressed by all parties working hand in hand - governments, tech companies, civil society and independent experts working together to do a better job of sharing the signals and information they have, and finding common solutions.

This debate will tackle the numerous issues linked to the democratic participation of EU citizens online - from giving citizens a voice and space for political participation, all the way through to the ongoing fight against misinformation, fake accounts and foreign interference. It will focus on addressing the most pressing questions around the impact of social media on citizens' engagement in democracy and will aim to take a balanced look at both the positives and the negatives. With the European Parliamentary elections approaching next year, it will also touch upon the latest trends in political campaigning, security & integrity, and how social media play a role in that.

Programme - 05/12/2018

Welcome and introduction:

Lambert van Nistelrooij MEP and EIF Steering Committee Member


Emilian Pavel MEP and EIF Member

Jaume Duch Guillot, Director General for Communication and Spokesperson, European Parliament

Sean Evins, Politics and Government Outreach lead for EMEA, Facebook

Erika Widegren, CEO, Re-Imagine-Europe

Dr. Pawel Rzeszucinski, Chief Data Scientist, Codewise

Exchange of views with the participants

(under the Chatham House rules)

Download programme


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