Researcher at the School of Communication and Culture receives prestigious Horizon 2020 grants

What will the internet of the future look like in an increasingly digital everyday life? What impact does fake news have on democracy? Research Director Anja Bechmann has received two Horizon 2020 grants which can contribute to addressing some of the digital societal challenges facing Europe.

2018.11.27 | Marianne Ester Back

Anja Bechmann and her collaborative partners have received around DKK 30 million from Horizon 2020, the largest research and innovation programme in the history of the EU. The vision behind Horizon 2020 is that excellent research and ground-breaking innovation projects are to contribute to creating growth and jobs in the future Europe and to solving some of the major societal challenges facing Europe. Read about the projects.


Project title: SOMA: Social Observatory for Disinformation and Social Media Analysis
Grant amount: EUR 987,437.50
Grant recipient: Anja Bechmann from DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research in collaboration with, among others, Ira Assent from the Data-Intensive Systems group at the Department of Computer Science.

  The question behind the entire fake-news debate is whether the truth determines whether users share certain content.  

The vision behind Horizon 2020 is that the projects are to contribute to addressing some of the major societal challenges facing Europe. Which societal challenge will your project address?

“The societal challenge we’re going to work with is how and to what extent the social media increase the polarisation of the political debate. Politicians and agencies can use the social media to conduct election campaigns which are highly targeted at individual users, and which can play on psychological factors that are not directly visible to the general public. There’s an entire industry of fact-checkers who focus on the major role that fake news has played in election campaign strategies to increase polarisation, among other things, and who stress that efficient action must be taken against fake news to secure democracy and the election process. The question behind the entire fake-news debate is whether the truth determines whether users share certain content (and whether it’s important to fight fake news). Research shows that what’s most important when sharing content is whether or not it supports your attitude. So if that’s the underlying logic, we as a research team need to focus on entirely different psychological principles requiring the development of new methods to ensure a fruitful communication forum for discussions that support democracy.”

The project began on 1 November 2018, with a kick-off event in Athens on 14-15 November.


Project title: NGI Forward: Next Generation Internet
Grant amount: EUR 2,999,187.50
Grant recipient: Anja Bechmann from DATALAB – Center for Digital Social Research in collaboration with, among others, Mirko Presser from the Department of Business Development and Technology.

  “The big challenge in the digital society is that the internet currently has many flaws in relation to our needs as individuals, groups and society.  

The vision behind Horizon 2020 is that the projects are to contribute to addressing some of the major societal challenges facing Europe. Which societal challenge will your project address?

“The big challenge in the digital society is that the internet currently has many flaws in relation to our needs as individuals, groups and society. The internet as we know it today is designed to transfer information, but we also have a public sector that digitalises everything, which means that our lives will be available online. In a digital world, we need to set different requirements for the way in which we design the internet. So our task is to analyse socioeconomic and cultural challenges and to provide a research-based perspective on how the internet should develop in future with industry partners to ensure that the infrastructure supports European values such as democracy and human rights. Living our lives digitally also means that the development of the internet is far more driven by values than by technology. That’s why the humanistic and the sociological perspectives play such a central role in the project, because we as a centre can help bridge the gap between the humanities and sociology on the one hand and computer science and engineering on the other.”

The project starts on 1 January 2019, with a kick-off event in London on 21-22 January.                      


Further information:

Name: Anja Bechmann
Email: anjabechmann@aias.au.dk
Link to website: http://www.datalab.au.dk/

      

    

Grant