The second edition of the Information Intermediaries Research Monitor was published under the title “‘We need to talk’ – Restoring comprehensibility to the world of media”. This is the latest in a series of publications that iRights.Lab has produced on behalf of the Media Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia. The aim is to take stock of and critically assess both German- and English-language research on the effects of information intermediaries, e.g. search engines and social media, on the formation of public opinion. In addition, the Monitor highlights current and new research projects and contains announcements of important conferences on relevant topics.
The new Monitor revisits the fact that information intermediaries do not meet the classical definition of media outlets because they select content automatically, rather than as a result of decisions made by journalists. Thus, they fundamentally call into question the concept of media as well as of broadcasting.
In addition, personalized content has an impact on the information base available to users, which in turn can have an impact on opinion formation and thus on policymaking processes. This must also be seen against the background of the importance of free will as a fundamental democratic principle.
Ultimately, a society with a “well-functioning public sphere and media-competent individuals” is needed tomeet the challenges posed by the role of information intermediaries such as Facebook. After all, balanced journalism still enjoys a high degree of trust.
The entire second edition of the Research Monitor is available here as a PDF file (German).
You can find the first issue here (German).