Accordingly, one witnesses a new digital preoccupation with history on the Internet that all too frequently lacks a professional, critically reflective approach. One might wonder how closely the self-image of those who spread “alternative”, that is, historically erroneous narratives about the past, resembles the already mentioned pattern of memory warriors. Undoubtedly, a problem arises when aggressive national agendas and intentionally manufactured memories merge.
In light of the abundance of historical information available online, as early as 2010, Wolfgang Schmale warned of the "blurring of the boundaries between historical knowledge and its representation on the one hand, and [...] falsification of history with the prospect of widespread reception and impact on the other." This kind of propagation of historical narratives through digital means plays to emotions and preconceptions rather than highlighting the ambiguity, contradictions, opposing viewpoints, and multiple perspectives of historical developments. By reducing complexity, this form of telling history follows the marketing dynamics of emotionalization and “attention-based economy” that we are familiar with from social media. Historicity turns into an instrumental and illustrative medium that prioritizes valuing one's own content over any interest in knowledge. The carefully considered, consensus-based search for the truth is being replaced by allegedly authentic content. Priority is given to legitimizing non-scientific beliefs and convictions by setting them to go viral, giving them particularly dynamic visibility via social media, bypassing the ‘traditional’ gatekeepers of knowledge.
Such digital historical narratives result in often alarming research and ethical degradation of forms of presentation and the crystallization, even reiteration (as per Berger and Luckmann) of fake pasts. They advertise themselves as alternative narratives relative to what they consider mainstream and see themselves as fresh, original perspectives. They deliberately dismiss key historical-methodological principles in order to appeal to an anti-systemic sentiment among susceptible like-minded peers. To this end, Daniela Pscheida spoke of the fatal illusion of a "noble amateur" who conscientiously contributes to historical knowledge.
"Social media have the potential to be complementary tools for broadening and deepening knowledge and, in turn, for diversifying the basis on which people in a democracy can make their decisions. [...]. Web 2.0, in particular, reveals two misconceptions that point to the roles of Internet users in a democracy. On the one hand, online we are first and foremost consumers. Website providers treat us as customers, as market participants, as people to whom certain products are to be sold. [...] Connected to this is the second aspect of Internet ambivalence. Namely, online opportunities such as social networks or microblog services functionally serve, first and foremost, social integration and networking with more or less like-minded people [...]."
The latter, in fact, also proved to be a blessing for the opposition movement in Belarus, with platforms such as Telegram (dubbed "the most important medium in the Ukrainian war" ) decisively expanding the range of what can be said, thought, and done. Historical scholarship is therefore encouraged to examine the ambiguity of digital systems of communication, knowledge, and action beyond historical analogies. For example, suggesting the transition to the age of book printing as a counterpart to the digital transformation does not address the core of our engagement with history and the past today. Understanding the structure, history, and context of the digital transformation is essential. If historical scholarship is to remain capable of interacting with society, the professional treatment of historical content cannot be considered separately from the narrative structures, hyper-textuality, and storytelling of social media.