Working as a think tank on behalf of the State Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia, iRights.Lab regularly compiles a Research Monitor on the topic of information intermediaries. The third edition of this report is now available with the title “In the War of Disinformation—Trolls Versus the Defenders of Democratic Discourse.”
Especially in connection with the last elections to the European Parliament, various forms of disinformation, propagated over social networks, played an important role. This is one of the major focusses of the publication. Online “trolls” work specifically on the weakening of individual persons or opinions, and are met on the other side by the defenders of democratic discourse. Additionally, the question arises as to what role private companies play in the struggle to uphold basic democratic values. And how can or should policymakers intervene to regulate this sector? When dealing with the conflicted field of information intermediaries, it is phenomena such as fake news, hate speech and filter bubbles that come to the fore.
In this paper, we also discuss the meaning and definition of the term information intermediary. Increasingly, algorithms automatically influence people’s everyday media realities. In particular, the data that social media and other services collect from their users plays a key role in shaping the information people receive in personalized news feeds or search engine results.
In addition to these and related topics, this issue of the Research Monitor also deals with current research projects, for example on populism in social networks or on the difficulty of proving or disproving the existence of filter bubbles in social networks.
An upcoming event is also announced that will deal with the question of how news reaches users today and whether users come into contact with news items via social networks that otherwise would not have reached them.
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