Theoretical, Empirical, and Technological Foundations for Systems that Monitor and Support Political Deliberation Online.

Learn more about the project

Online social networks have become an integral part of the public sphere, but they are also criticized for contributing to the crisis in Western democracies by facilitating the emergence of echo chambers, amplifying conflicts, and enabling manipulations of public opinion via social bots.

This state of affairs is the result of a complex interplay of technical systems, human actors, and partisan agendas that cannot be understood by one discipline alone. Interdisciplinary understanding of these phenomena needs to be based on theoretical expertise in computer science and the social sciences, empirical analysis and psychological experiments, plus a dialogue with civil society stakeholders.

We focus on three levels of analysis of political communication online: the detection of social bots and their strategies to manipulate communication (actor level); conflictual discussions among users (interaction level); and the emergence of echo chambers (structural level). Based on a deeper understanding of the issues at each level, the 3B project will develop tools and methods that monitor and support political deliberation online. Our tools and methods will discover manipulative social bots, monitor the quality and diversity of political discussions, and build bridges between digital communities in order to contribute to the diversification of opinions in echo chambers.

Recent blog posts

B3 at the 41. Congress of the German Sociology Association 2022

At the upcoming 41. Congress of the German Sociology Association that will take place September 26-30, 2022 in Bielefeld, members of the B3-consortium organized the ad-hoc group „Interdisciplinary exploration of technically assisted (de)polarization“ . It features five presentations by team members and affiliates. Marcel Schliebs (University of Oxford): "From Troll-Farms to Cyber-Brigading: Evolution in the Modus Operandi of State-Backed Information Operations". Lucas Maximilian Schubert (Bundeswehr University Munich): "Doors of Perception - Rethinking the Theoretic Approach to Understand Cyber Affairs in…

by Felix Gumbert

3B project’s research presented at Sunbelt 2022 

VOSON Lab researchers and affiliates presented 3B project-related research at the XLII Social Networks Conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) #Sunbelt2022, which took place on July 12-16, 2022, in Cairns, Australia.  Prof Robert Ackland presented ‘Threaded Conversation Networks and Political Deliberation on Twitter During the First 2020 US Presidential Election Debate', joint work with Ole Pütz; Bryan Gertzel; Indra Bock; Felix Gumbert; Florian Muhle and Matthias Orlikowski. The presentation focused on the results of a large-scale…

by Francisca Borquez

New Experiment Online – Participants Wanted

We are currently conducting our next experiment to investigate how people perceive and rate Twitter accounts and are still looking for test participants. If you are interested (and would like to take the opportunity to win a 25€ voucher), please follow this link: Participation takes around 10-15 minutes (please note that German language skills are required).

by Ole Pütz

Detecting Twitter Bots: a Test of Botometer with Bots of Different Complexity

In which way does different behavior of bots influence their detection by the popular Twitter bot detection framework Botometer? This question was addressed in a Master‘s thesis written at Bielefeld University by Merle Reimann. Botometer gives the analyzed accounts a score between 0 and 1 (on the website 0-5) where 0 stands for a human and 1 for a bot account. In the beginning of September, Botometer was updated. The update introduced a new model, to improve the bot detection.…

by Ole Pütz

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