By Catherine Stihler, Chief Executive, Open Knowledge International

WE live in a world where the acceptance of basic facts is under threat. “Fake news”, disinformation campaigns, and the removal of data are combining to create a culture where expert views are dismissed and ignored.

You can see it in the White House where Donald Trump ignores the science about climate change. You can see it in the ongoing Brexit debate, where the lies of the Leave campaign are causing party ruptures not seen for decades in the UK. And you can see it on Facebook, where hate speech and propaganda is shared, influencing elections and our democratic processes.

The way forward is to resuscitate the three foundations of tolerance, facts and ideas, to prevent a drift to the extremes that we are witnessing in political systems across the world.

This week is Endangered Data Week, an American initiative designed to highlight the importance of data. Campaigners point out that in just the first few weeks of the Trump administration, it was reported that the Environmental Protection Agency was instructed to remove the climate change page from its website. Two years on, the President tweeted last month that the US would benefit from “a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now”, confusing weather and climate change yet again.

Open Knowledge International believes in the power of open data – data that can be freely used, modified and shared by anyone for any purpose. We help governments, universities, and civil society organisations reach their full potential by providing them with skills and tools to publish, use, and understand data, so that it becomes open knowledge.

In order to tackle major global challenges like climate change, we need information to monitor the effectiveness of different initiatives and policies and to track progress against targets. But it’s not just the environment that’s at risk if we put up barriers to data – it can have consequences for our politics too.The social media giant Facebook has been at the centre of a series of rows about disinformation on social media, particularly in connection with the 2016 Brexit referendum.

It is imperative that we do not allow disinformation and fake news to blight this year’s European Parliamentary elections taking place in 27 member states. I have written to Sir Nick Clegg, the former deputy Prime Minister who is now vice-president of global affairs and communications at Facebook.

I have asked him for more transparency from the platform, and a clear commitment to tackle disinformation and let the facts be heard in the run-up to these crucial elections. I want to know how many fake accounts the platform continues to host, and what progress is being made on working with third-part fact-checkers in each of the 27 member states participating in the elections.

Open Knowledge International is a founding member of the School of Data, a global network committed to advancing data literacy in civil society. Information that directly impacts people’s lives is increasingly accessible, but civil society organisations are struggling to up-skill their teams to a level where data and technology becomes a well-understood, core part of their daily work.

It’s vital that civil society can understand and fight back against the abuses of technology companies and hold their governments and other powerful actors to account. In our digital world, openness has never been more important. It’s time for us to make data more open, so that we can fight the threat of a closed world where disinformation and lies can thrive.