The Internet provides fast and ubiquitous communication that enables all kinds of communities and provides citizens with easy access to vast amounts of information, although the information is not necessarily verified and may present a distorted view of real events or facts. The Internet’s power as an instant source of mass information can be used to influence opinions, which can have far-reaching consequences.
This report is the result of an in-depth consultation with multidisciplinary domain experts into how opinions can be formed and influenced via digital means. It specifically examines the effects and management of “Fake News” (e.g. deliberate misinformation), “Echo Chambers” (e.g. closed communities where biases can be reinforced through lack of diversity in opinions), and the Internet’s influence on social and political movements such as Populism. It examines socio-technical implications of the Internet related to the impact of closed communities and misinformation and makes recommendations concerning the research needed to address these specific challenges.