Social Media Analytics

The Social Media Analytics Competence Center (SMA CC) emerged from the funded BMBF project PropStop and comprises all partners of this consortium. In the meantime, the initial idea of Propstop (addressing the detection of automatically generated propaganda in online media) has become a major issue in societal and scientific discussion. This competence center aims at reaching beyond the boundaries of the original project and etstablishes a community of researchers and practitioners to address the topics of Disinformation, Propaganda, and Manipulation via Online Media in a multidisciplinary approach.

In the context of the collaboration in the Competence Center SMA and with the support of the respective funding scheme of the University of Münster, the Topical Program Algorithmization and Social Interaction was established as a research network in March 2021. It deals with many aspects of the social impact of artificial intelligence and the use of algorithms. The activities of the competence center are an important part of this project.


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Nowadays, people worldwide discuss and comment societal and political developments on the Internet, for instance on social media platforms or on news websites. Not only journalists rely on social media as a source for ‘trending topics’ or offer their users the possibility to state their opinion publicly on the Net.

Beyond the desired space for free expression of public opinions, such Internet offerings also provide options for large-scaled concerted manipulations. Semi- to full automatized systems (often called “social bots”) are able to act on behalf of humans by using technical access routes (APIs or remote-controlled web browsers) to social media infrastructure in order to massively disseminate content (spam, hate, opinions, or mere advertisement).

Such attacks can result in a distorted image of the digital public opinion and may influence the single user, societal debates, news coverage, or commercial success of products and companies. In the end, this can cause severe societal or monetary damage.

Our research in the SMA CC considers the area from a multi-disciplinary, i.e., technical, analytical, societal, journalistic, and practioners' point of view. Moreover, the CC strongly supports the joint European initiative CLAIRE, i.e. the Confederation of Laboratories for Artifical Intelligence Research in Europe. 

The SMA CC strives to lay the foundation for a new and interdisciplinary research area on the rise. Current public discussions on manipulation and disinformation via social or online-media often rely on preliminary assumptions, partial insights, and simple analytical techniques with limited general significance. In this competence center, computer scientists, statisticians, social scientists, journalists as well as practitioners from media and industry combine their expertise in order to

  • Investigate the nature of propaganda and manipulation characteristics in online media;
  • Develop or advance detection techniques for manipulation, disinformation, and propaganda;
  • Suggest countermeasures to ensure transparency and fair participation in social media.

The partners of the SMA CC tackle the challenges of propaganda and manipulation in social media from multiple scientific and practical perspectives. While some partners emerge from the project PropStop, LIACS complements the analytics expertise of the CC by providing advanced means of network and graph analytics. At the same time the University of Adelaide contributes a wider international perspective to the general topic of manipulation in online media and opens perspectives for research on transferability and generalization of methods. Since the start of this competence center, multiple partners from all over the world have joint:

  • University of Münster, Information Systems and Communication Science
  • University of Twente, The Netherlands
  • Wrocław University of Science and Technology, Poland
  • Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg (HAW), Digital Media Research
  • University Duisburg/Essen, Social Media, Professional Communication in Electronic Media / Social Media
  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Adelaide, Australia
  • University of Sydney, Australia
  • University of Leiden (LIACS), The Netherlands