Approved: Interdisciplinary Junior Research Group “Democratic Resilience in Times of Online-Propaganda, Fake News, Fear- and Hate speech” at the Department of Communication (IfK)
(21.12.207) How do Online Propaganda and related phenomena spread, which effects do they have and how can media users be assisted, in order to resist manipulation attempts online? Starting January 2018, the interdisciplinary junior research group “Democratic Resilience in Times of Online-Propaganda, Fake News, Fear- and Hate speech” led by Dr. Lena Frischlich will investigate these questions. With nearly one million euros, the project is funded by the Land of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), NRW, through the funding line “Democracy’s Protection and Reinforcement in the Digitized Society”.
The increasing possibilities for permanent interconnectedness and participation in a digitized society not only offer many chances to reinforce democracy but also diverse possibilities to spread manipulative, non-democratic content, such as Online Propaganda, Fake news, Fear- or Hate speech.
The concerns, that such content may weaken the democracy are big and the possibilities to repress such content on the internet limited.
Thus, approaches to support the development of media users’ individual ability to resist manipulation attempts online, also to strengthen their democratic resilience, are inevitable.
“In order to understand, how manipulative online media-content takes effect and what we can do to strengthen the democracy in the digitized society, we first need to understand who is spreading Online Propaganda, Fake news, Fear- and Hate speech on the internet and under which circumstances this content leads to negative effects.“ explains Dr. Lena Frischlich, leader of the Junior Research Group. “Only then we can start developing empirically based intervention methods.”
To investigate these questions, one focus of the project lies on the interdisciplinary cooperation between Information Systems, Communication Science and Media Psychology.
The team, consisting of computer and communication scientists and, led by Dr. Lena Frischlich is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the Land of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) through the funding line “Democracy’s Protection and Reinforcement in the Digitized Society” with nearly one million euros for human resources and is supported the Rectorate of the University of Münster (WWU), the Deanery of Department 06, the IfK and the Department of Information Systems and Statistics. The project duration will be from January 2018 until the end of 2022.
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