The actionable solutions forged in the Convergence Collaborative on Digital Discourse will promote user agency and free speech, equip users with skills and awareness against harmful information, and support trustworthy and sustainable media.
Washington, D.C., December 13, 2023 — Convergence Center for Policy Resolution released a new report with a series of actionable solutions and tools to tackle deep challenges around digital discourse. These solutions foster agency, resilience, connectedness, and well-being in our democracy and communities without violating free speech, civil or human rights. This Blueprint for Action shares the consensus solutions built by the diverse group of leaders – representatives from academia, tech platforms, policy, health, media, community-based and bridge-building organizations, alternative social networks, those personally impacted by digital harms, and more – who participated in the Convergence Collaborative on Digital Discourse for a Thriving Democracy and Resilient Communities, a multi-stage, year-long convening.
Solutions from the report’s findings call on the tech industry, academia, news providers, consumer advocacy organizations, user communities, policymakers, regulators, and civil society to focus on three major areas for improvement:
- Design: Social media design that facilitates choice and encourages constructive interaction.
- Awareness and Skills: Create bottom-up, just-in-time educational resources, built into the online environment, that address how users interface with platforms, information, and each other.
- News and Information: Trustworthy news and information providers who promote shared facts and understanding and meet community needs.
“As more of the ugliness from online discourse manifests offline causing real-life harm and the technological advancement to spread it grows by the minute with the dawn of AI, the urgency to address the challenges of our existence as a society on the internet cannot be understated,” said Convergence Interim CEO and seasoned consensus-builder, Mariah Levison. “As the consensus among our participants demonstrates, America has a collective interest in improving digital discourse. The solutions offer a clear pathway for a wide array of parties – from tech companies to news providers to schools – in the creation of a healthier and more democratically resilient online ecosystem.”
Convergence served as a neutral convenor for the Convergence Collaborative on Digital Discourse project – the latest of its flagship Collaboratives. Convergence Collaboratives are inclusive and cooperative processes, informed by social science, in which diverse groups of leaders come together to find common ground, build trust, develop consensus solutions, and move forward in unlikely alliances to achieve constructive change on intractable issues. Convergence’s proven methodology includes five phases: (1) selection of a ripe, amenable issue, (2) convening of a diverse table of divided leaders and doers, (3) facilitation of trust-building across divides, (4) generation of consensus recommendations, and (5) delivering on-the-ground implementation, with the goal of societal impact by inspiring collaboration over conflict. The Convergence Collaborative on Digital Discourse is informed by Convergence’s Discovery Report encompassing six months of engagement with differing experts and leaders, a literature review, an analysis of more than 580 enacted and proposed legislative solutions, outputs from three expert workshops, and more than 200 stakeholder interviews.
This project is generously supported by New Pluralists, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
About Convergence Center for Policy Resolution
Convergence is the leading organization bridging divides to solve critical issues through collaborative problem-solving across ideological, political, and cultural lines. For more than a decade, Convergence has brought together leaders, doers, and experts—many who never thought they could talk to one another—to build trusting relationships, identify breakthrough solutions, and form unlikely alliances for constructive change on seemingly intractable issues. Our process is improving the lives of Americans and strengthening democracy for a more resilient and collaborative future. For more information, visit convergencepolicy.org.