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“Protection from X-tremists!”

January 10, 2024

In his guest commentary on, Marian Adolf, Researcher at the Department of Communication, analyzes why the ‘public sphere’ is an elusive concept and yet a precious good.

The fundamental question is whether more communication, information and opinion is always a good thing – or whether less indignation, outrage, disinformation and propaganda wouldn’t be better. People who always gobble up crap are not going to live very well or get very old. Just as “you are what you eat”, our societies are shaped by the way we communicate. But this is exactly what has been happening for some time in our increasingly digital media landscape. It is high time to respond in regulatory terms – to step up and hold the platforms that drive digital communication to account. The EU Commission is doing this with a case against X/Twitter for “illegal content” under the Digital Services Act (DSA).

If you shout in a classroom, disrupt a parliamentary debate with constant heckling, or rant in a business meeting, you will be sanctioned – or at least muted. As in other areas of social life, communication in a society needs rules. Marian Adolf therefore concludes that companies such as X/Twitter and people such as Elon Musk should not be allowed to preside over public discourse.  More than ever, the precious good that is the public sphere needs our protection.

>> To the op-ed on (in German)