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Weizenbaum Institute: Research Group 14 "News, campaigns, and the rationality of public discourse"


Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society
Research Area 4: Democracy, Participation and the Public Sphere
News, campaigns, and the rationality of public discourse

Principal Investigator:


Contact Person:
Prof. Dr. Ulrike Klinger
Forschungsgruppe 14

Forschungsgruppe 14

This research group investigates the contents and processes of political communication in digital public spheres with a view to spreading extremist views, rumours, defamations and lies. The constellations of the actors and the dynamics of the discourses favour fleeting and fragmented thematic public spheres. Moreover, it can be observed that the quality standards and truth claims in the public sphere of social networks and user-generated communication are shifting without any foreseeable consequences for the level and behaviour of citizens*. An important question is which conditions and context factors influence the mechanisms and dynamics of so-called postfactual messages and defamation campaigns and how they are motivated. What are the differences between the rhetoric of right and left groups in digital media and networks and how do user-driven communications and algorithm-based campaigns differ?

The research group aims to understand the dynamics and effects of algorithm-based communication (e.g. opinion robots).

Two questions are at the center of attention:

  1. Which forms and types of political cyberbullying do we encounter in the digital world, what motives are there for such campaigns and how do arguments spread on which digital platforms and networks?
  2. Real News, Social Bots and Fake News: Which factors influence political careers in hybrid media systems?

Current publications and papers:

The research group "News, campaigns, and the rationality of public discourse" is one of a total of twenty research groups at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society.


  • Digital public sphere, digital media, political communication, campaigns, social media, social bots, algorithms