The chair's research focuses on changes in media communication due to the comprehensive digitalisation of all areas of society. A special focus is on the analysis of current transformations of the public sphere that occur as result of the emergence of a hybrid media system, which is characterised by the increasing internet-based distribution of news, and by the establishment of social media as additional intermediaries. These new intermediaries have not only established complex interrelationships with the traditionall news media.
Moreover, based on datafication and algorithmic filtering, they produce ‘algorithmic audiences’ and allow for new modes of ‘personalized’ news selection and distribution. The extent to which this algorithmic logic of news selection and distribution contributes to
(1) new forms of public opinion formation,
(2) the segmentation of partial publics and
(3) the reinforcement of social polarisation is the subject of research at the Chair. Of particular interest in this context is also the influence that automated actors - for example so-called socialbots - can have on transformations of the public sphere.
Currently, these issues are being investigated within the framework of the international and interdisciplinary research project"Bots Building Bridges (3B): Theoretical, Empirical, and Technological Foundations for Systems that Monitor and Support Political Deliberation Online", which is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation within the framework of the programme "Artificial Intelligence and the Society of the Future".
The focus of the chair's teaching activities is the examination of digital communication in general and forms and problems of datafication and automation of (online) communication in particular. The teaching topics are closely interconnected with the research foci of the chair and both research-oriented and writing-intensive. The idea behind this is that students should be familiarised with the scientific research process at an early stage in order to develop not only an abstract understanding but also a practical know-how of scientific activity.
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