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Safeguarding Democracies

Social Media and Populist Narratives in Germany and the U.S.​

20 Sep 2021
20:00 – 21:00
Online Event

Lecture Programme of the German Federal Government

The U.S. elections in 2020 and the storm on the Capitol in Washington DC that followed suit underlined once more the influence of social media on the democratic process. In light of the general elections in Germany in September 2021, the virtual transatlantic conversation 'Safeguarding Democracies: Social Media and Populist Narratives in Germany and the U.S.' will take place.

Markus Beckedahl, co-founder of re:publica, network political activist and journalist, and Lance Bennett, the Emeritus Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor for Communication at the University of Washington, will discuss the social media narratives surrounding the U.S. and the German elections, as well as approaches by governments, civil society, and business to limit the spread of misinformation and fake news. The event will be moderated by Paulina Fröhlich, program director of Future of Democracies at 'Das Progressive Zentrum'. Oliver Schramm, German Consul General in San Francisco, will provide opening remarks.


This event is part of an ongoing lecture series of the Federal Republic of Germany. The participation is free.




The event is hosted by the German Consulate General in San Francisco together with the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the Center for West European Studies of the University of Washington and the Goethe Pop Up Seattle.


Markus Beckedahl

is co-founder of re:publica, a conference on digital society and social media. He is a network political activist and journalist and was editor-in-chief until 2013 of Netzpolitik.org, a blog he founded in 2002 on information society. From 2010 to 2013 he was an expert in the Enquete Commission of the German Bundestag on internet and digital society. He is the author and editor of various books on issues relating to the digital world and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Grimme Online Award in the Special Category and the Günther-Wallraff‐Journalism Critique Award.

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Portrait of Lance Bennett

Lance Bennett

Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Communication

Lance Bennett is the Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Journalism, Media and Democracy at the University of Washington. Bennett is also the founding director of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement. He has taught and published on media and information systems, press-government relations, citizenship and civic engagement, digital activism, and problems of disinformation in democracies. His publications include The Logic of Connective Action (Cambridge 2013), The Disinformation Age (open access, Cambridge 2020) and Communicating the Future: Solutions for Environment, Economy and Democracy (Polity 2021).

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Portrait of Paulina Fröhlich

Paulina Fröhlich

Deputy Managing Director at "Das Progressive Zentrum" Berlin

Paulina Fröhlich is head of the Resilient Democracy programme at the "Das Progressive Zentrum" in Berlin. She leads innovative dialogue projects such as "Europe Listens", conceives and curates "Innocracy", a conference on democratic transformation, and co-authors discussion papers. Fröhlich studied geography, Islamic studies and water management and in 2016 co-founded the initiative "Kleiner Fünf", which developed the strategy of "radical politeness" against right-wing populism. In 2023, she was appointed to the #FutureStrategy Forum at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

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 Portrait of Oliver Schramm

Oliver Schramm

Consul General in San Francisco

Oliver Schramm has been German Consul General in San Francisco since August 2021, with responsibility for several US states, as well as Alaska, Hawai'i and Samoa. He joined the German Foreign Service in 1991 and served in Seoul, Washington D.C., Rome, Lima and most recently in London, with Berlin, Germany in between. In 2002, he received an MPA degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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