This page outlines our research approach and delineates key milestones of the SoMe4Dem project within the framework of the HORIZON Europe grant.
Theory of Democracy and Social Media
This work package provides the conceptual framework for studying the impact of social media on liberal democracy. It centers on two main aspects:
citizenship as a cornerstone of liberal democracy and
identity as an attribute of individual citizens and collectives.
The key objective for the work package is to explore ---based on the empirical findings of the other WPs--- whether social media contribute to enabling of democratic citizenship by, for instance, expanding participation opportunities and creating new communities or rather to inhibiting thereof by, for instance, generating democratic pathologies. Thus, this work package is interested in the question of how the rise of social media platforms affects the citizenship practices in the (digital) public sphere of liberal democracies.
Producing evidence: Measuring the impact of social media
In this work package we will measure the impact of social media platforms along the dimensions polarization (conflict), trust (cooperation), and participation. The objective will be pursued through data collection, method and tool development, and measuring political online activity for specific polarizing topics.
Causal effects of digital media technologies
In this work package we ask what are the causal mechanisms underlying the impact of social media use? We will investigate these mechanisms by experiments both in the field and in the laboratory, and assess their macroscopic effects by computational models.
Boosting competent social media use
This work package will explore two complementary approaches to fostering democratic deliberation:
modifying algorithms and representations in social media interfaces and
fostering citizen's digital literacy using simple, scaleable "boosting" interventions derived from insights from the behavioral sciences.
In this work package we will study digital citizenship in two case studies addressing new forms of online self-organization and political participation: online petitions and the open source intelligence (OSINT) community. We will study the extent to which boosting interventions and improved algorithms can improve digital citizenship and we will develop a pipeline for translating scientific insights into policy recommendations.