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.

RESEARCH BLOG

  • 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, […]
  • Pandemic Protesters on Telegram: How Platform Affordances and Information Ecosystems Shape Digital Counterpublics
    Kilian Buehling and Annett Heft (both Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) published an article on the Pandemic Protesters on Telegram: How Platform Affordances and Information Ecosystems Shape Digital Counterpublics in Social Media + Society.  Their research investigates the role of platform affordances, their adoption by movement actors, and the strategic use of information ecosystems in shaping a digital counterpublic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study analyzes data from over 300 Telegram channels and group chats associated with the Querdenken movement over a two-year period. Employing a combination of automated and manual techniques such as topic modeling, network analysis, and quantitative […]
  • Cross-Border Journalism Content: Status Quo and Perspectives
    Journalism has been crossing borders since news media and nation-states co-emerged in the seventeenth century. Still, the internet era has further advanced and expanded the border-transcending production, dissemination, and reception of news. The rise of cross-border journalism reflects the “increasing connectedness, boundarylessness, and mobility in the world” (Berglez, 2008, p. 855). The new “The Palgrave Handbook of Cross-Border Journalism” (2024) explores cross-border journalism through conceptual and empirical lenses, scrutinizes transnational journalism cultures in the Internet age, and deliberates on the theoretical and methodological challenges of analyzing cross-border journalism. In the chapter “Cross-Border Journalism Content: Status Quo and Perspectives” Annett Heft […]
  • Politicization and Right-Wing Normalization on Youtube: A Topic-Based Analysis of the “Alternative Influence Network”
    Curd Benjamin Knüpfer (Free University of Berlin), Carsten Schwemmer (Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich) and Annett Heft (Free University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) published an article on the Politicization and Right-Wing Normalization on Youtube: A Topic-Based Analysis of the “Alternative Influence Network” in the  International Journal of Communication. The study addresses a  gap in current research on YouTube’s actual content. Built on Lewis’s (2018) classification of an “alternative influencer” network, the study applies structural topic modeling across all text-based autocaptions from her study’s sample to identify common topics featured on these channels, and to trace politicization over time. The researchers find that political […]
  • Light and Shadow of Participation and Mobilization in Networked Digital Public Spheres
    On November 30th and December 1st, Annett Heft (Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) had the opportunity to participate in the conference „Zwischen Gefährdung & Emanzipation: Demokratie unter Druck“ (Between Threat and Emancipation: Democracy Under Pressure) hosted by the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society, together with the Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, and the Forschungsinstitut Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt.  With a regional focus on Germany, the conference addressed the pressures democracy faces, due to the increase of anti-democratic and anti-human ideologies. Such promotes exclusionary processes that restrict participation and question justice, while the performance deficits of the political system […]
  • Fellow Talk on Pandemic Activism with Prof. Dr. Shelly Boulianne
    We were honored to have Prof. Dr. Shelly Boulianne, Professor of Digital Political Communication at the Université Catholique de Lille and currently a Research Fellow in our research group, giving a talk on her latest research on November, 28. In her talk “Pandemic activism in comparative perspective: Exploring the roles of digital media uses, misinformation, and populist attitudes”, she presented her latest work on the roles of populist attitudes, digital media uses, misinformation, and pandemic activism, in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Boulianne exhibited the results of two cross-national surveys which she conducted in 2021 and 2023, in Germany, […]
  • Twiplomacy and the War: Untangling networked practices of Russian diplomats during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine
    From the 18th until the 21st of November Miriam Milzner (Freie University of Berlin/Weizenbaum Institute) had the great opportunity to participate in the three-day AoIR conference in Philadelphia, PA, USA. The 2023 AoIR conference explored the themes of revolutions, examining their inherent promises and failures in connection to digital technologies. It delved into the involvement of digital technologies in revolutionary initiatives and explored how discussions surrounding revolutions have manifested in projects concerning social justice, the restructuring of social orders, and the corporate exploitation of revolutionary commitments.  In this light, Miriam Milzner presented her work “Twiplomacy and the War: Untangling networked […]
  • Mapping a Dark Space: Challenges in Sampling and Classifying Non-Institutionalized Actors on Telegram
    November 14th a collaborative article Mapping a Dark Space: Challenges in Sampling and Classifying Non-Institutionalized Actors on Telegram with two members of our team was published in the journal Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft!  Written by Pablo Jost (Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich), Annett Heft (Free University of Berlin), Kilian Buehling (Free University of Berlin), Maximilian Zehring (Ilmenau Technical University), Heidi Schulze (Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich), Hendrik Bitzmann, and Emese Domahidi (Ilmenau Technical University). The article Mapping a Dark Space: Challenges in Sampling and Classifying Non-Institutionalized Actors on Telegram, is a literature review on the issues present in recent research on Telegram. As the application offers […]
  • Book launch with Eviane Leidig “The Women of the Far Right”
    On November 2nd, 2023, we had the great pleasure of participating in the book launch of The Women of the Far Right, written by Dr. Eviane Leidig (Tilburg University). Hosted by the research project NEOVEX, the event was jointly organized with the Free University of Berlin, the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin, the Institute for Democracy and Civil Society Jena, and supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.  Moderated by Annett Heft and Maik Fiekitz, the book launch began with a short introduction to the topic of right-wing extremism and populism as central challenges for democracy and society. […]