New Research Mon­i­tor: A war of dis­in­for­ma­tion

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.

You can down­load the entire issue of the Research Mon­i­tor here. All other issues can also be found here (Ger­man).

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