Are Social Bots and Fake News threatening our democracy? The Propstop-Team provides research on the dangers of misinformation in the newest POLITIKUM edition.

The POLITIKUM edition ‘smart democracy’ discusses democracy in the times of digitalization – supported by the Propstop-Team members Prof. Dr. Thorsten Quandt, Dr. Lena Frischlich, Tim Schatto-Eckrodt and Svenja Boberg.

The article focuses on the question of how great the threat of social bots and fake news really is. The researchers noted that the perceived credibility of fake news is determined by the number of Accounts who shared the message. Social Bots could therefore positively influence the credibility of fake news. The fear around a current wide-ranging impact on the German public and its formation of opinion was, however, dismissed by the researchers. While groups, who have little trust in traditional media and who are turning to alternative media, often perceive fake news as highly credible, the general public does not. A direct influence on the german election seems consequently unlikely.

Although the present impact of social bots and fake news shouldn’t be overestimated, a potential for a societal impact remains. The team of researchers therefore propose a mix of debunking fake news and promote media competence to combat political social bots and fake news.

The complete article is available here.