The digital society offers new possibilities for democratic participation as well as for disseminating manipulative content. Strategic agents are abusing the easy access to digitally generated publics to spread online propaganda, fake news, fear and hate speech. Such manipulative online content has been assumed to play a crucial role in radicalizing individuals, fostering social polarization, and weakening democracy per se. Even if the empirical evidence partly contradicts such dramatic expectations, the consequences of manipulative online communication should not be underestimated. In consequence, in order to support media recipients in dealing with manipulation attempts via online-media, it is necessary to promote users digital democratic resilience, their individual resistance against manipulative attempts and their ability to make autonomous decisions in virtual communication spheres. However, in order to implement effective tools empowering users and promoting digital democratic resilience, an in-depth understanding of the actors, target groups and impacts of the aforementioned phenomena is needed.
DemoRESILdigital addresses this need. The research team will analyze the actors, dissemination and impact of online propaganda, fake news, fear- and hate speech on different target groups by means of an innovative integration of methods from social sciences, computer science, data science and experimental research on media effects. On this basis, this interdisciplinary junior research group formed by communication scientists and computer scientists will identify and implement suitable intervention and prevention measures to promote democratic resilience.
Funding and Associated Research Departments
This junior research group is supported by the Digital Society research program funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The group is associated with the Department of Communication and the Department of Information Systems of the University of Münster, Germany. In addition, the junior research group is an associate partner of the PropStop project on identification, detection, and combating covert propaganda attacks via online-media.
- Internet presence on the official homepage of the Department of Communication (University of Münster) [click here]
- German Internet presence on the official homepage of the “Graduiertenkolleg NRW: Digitale Gesellschaft” [click here]