Dynamics of Digital Mobilization

Welcome to the Blog of the Research Group Dynamics of Digital Mobilization of the Weizenbaum Institute and Freie Universität Berlin!

Our research group investigates the logics and interrelationship of digital information infrastructures, (transnational) mobilizations in networked digital publics, the dynamics of diffusion and manipulation of information under conditions of automation and algorithmic control, and the quality of public debates in Europe and on an international scale.


  • Varities of antigender politics: applying a contextual lens
    Despite their shared antigenderism, populist radical-right parties’ contestation of gender and sexual equality forms a continuum rather than being homogenous across countries. Susanne Reinhardt, Annett Heft, and Elena Pavan argue that varieties of antigenderism are best understood through a party’s societal context, ideology, and voter expectations. Read more into this subject by clicking here.
  • 2nd Place for the Best Paper Award by DGPuK
    We extend our congratulations to Annett Heft and Kilian Buehling (both Freie Universität Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) along with their esteemed colleagues, Pablo Jost (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), Maximilian Zehring, Hendrik Bitzmann, and Emese Domahidi  (all Technische Universität Ilmenau), and Heidi Schulze (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich), for their notable achievement of receiving the 2nd place for the Best Journal Paper in Communication Science 2023 Award by German Society for Communication Science (DGPuK). Their paper titled “Mapping a Dark space: Challenges in Sampling and Classifying Non- Institutionalized Actors on Telegram” was published in Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft in 2023. Their work critically addresses the challenges prevalent in […]
  • Unveiling the Stylistic Dynamics of Conspiracy Theory Communication in Digital Spaces
    Today, the proliferation of conspiracy theories has become a prevalent issue, often fueled by the expansive reach of digital forums and social media platforms. A collaborative project led by Annett Heft, Kilian Buehling, Xixuan Zhang (all Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute), research on the complex nuances of online communication surrounding conspiracy narratives. In their investigation, they analyze conspiracy-related communication on social media platforms like 4chan and Reddit, and Twitter, as both the origin for radicalized user communities, and avenues for disseminate conspiracy theories. Central to their findings is the recognition of platform-specific influences on communication dynamics. From the anonymity and […]
  • The Querdenken Telegram Dataset 2020 – 2022
    From March 13th to 15th the University of Erfurt hosted the 69. Annual Conference of the German Society for Journalism and Communication Studies (DGPuK). This year’s theme, “Visions for a Better Life,” aimed to stimulate a debate on the social relevance and future of communication science research. By exploring the roles that communication and media can play in shaping the individual, institutional, and, social implementations of various aspects of a good life. Dr. Kilian Buehling from Freie Universität and Weizenbaum Institut, Berlin, showcased the Querdenken Telegram Dataset 2020 – 2022, gathered in collaboration with Heidi Schulze and Maximilian Zehring and […]
  • Vox Populi(st): Contexts and consequences of populism in user comments on news media Facebook pages
    On December 13, 2023, Daniel Thiele (Freie Universität Berlin & Weizenbaum Institute, Berlin) presented his research titled “Vox Populi(st): Contexts and Consequences of Populism in User Comments on News Media Facebook Pages” at the Helsinki Conference on Emotions, Populism and Polarization at the University of Helsinki. The conference was organized by the Helsinki Hub on Emotions, Populism and Polarisation (HEPPsinki) and attracted a diverse group of international researchers at various career stages, exploring populist mobilization in time and space, (de)radicalization, pandemic endurance, and datafication focusing particularly on interpretive and discourse theoretical research in an interdisciplinary context. On the conference’s final […]
  • Which factors shape citizen-generated populism? A computational analysis of comment sections during COVID-19 in seven European countries
    Citizen-generated populist content is flourishing in the comments sections of online news. The factors that shape the extent of such populist communication from below are still under-researched. The recent publication of Daniel Thiele (Freie Universität Berlin & Weizenbaum Institute, Berlin) focuses on the COVID-19 crisis to examine how contextual and media-related factors are related to the extent of populism in comment sections on Facebook pages of news outlets from seven European countries (AT, DE, FR, IT, NL, SE and UK). Titled “How COVID-19 and the News Shaped Populism in Facebook Comments in Seven European Countries. A Computational Analysis.” the paper […]
  • Telegram and its Affordances for Anti-Democratic Mobilization
    On February 28, 2024 Dr. Olga Pasitselska at the University of Groningen hosted a guest lecture by Dr. Kilian Buehling from Freie Universität and Weizenbaum Institut, Berlin. The topic of the lecture was “Telegram and its Affordances for Anti-Democratic Mobilization” based on a paper he wrote together with Dr. Annet Heft. Dr. Kilian Buehling began his lecture by introducing Telegram, outlining its development history, and emphasizing recent updates related to user monetization. He highlighted key aspects of this communication tool, particularly its features that facilitates contentious politics, its reluctance to moderate content and the high level of anonymity it provides. […]
  • Alliances and opportunity structures of gender contestations in Germany
    From the 22nd until the 23rd February 2024, Annett Heft (Free University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) had the great opportunity of presenting her work in the International Conference Polarization and Beyond. What Comes Next in Political Communication Research. The event was organized by the I-POLHYS: Investigating Polarization in Hybrid Media Systems and hosted by the University of Bologna. The conference aimed to share the primary outcomes of the I-POLHYS research project with the global scientific community and a wider audience. It also sought to engage international researchers examining diverse aspects of political communication dynamics related to polarization. At the international conference […]
  • Right Topic, Right Source? Source Diversity and Balance in Right-Wing Alternative News Content Across Topics
    On February 11, 2024, the final version of the article titled “Right Topic, Right Source? Source Diversity and Balance in Right-Wing Alternative News Content Across Topics,” authored by Annett Heft (Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute), Tim Ramsland, and Eva Mayerhöffer (both Roskilde University), was published by Taylor & Francis. The article investigates how right-wing alternative news media, in their pursuit of both journalistic legitimacy and partisan credibility, impact source and topical diversity as well as content balance. Analyzing a dataset of 1000 randomly chosen articles from 20 right-wing alternative online news sources spanning six countries (the US, the UK, Germany, […]