Political campaigning in 2020?

How will election campaigns evolve in relation to increasing social media use? This was the main question tackled by digital media researcher Axel Bruns, and DECIDIS researchers Luca RossiLisbeth Klastrup and Sander Schwartz during the seminar “Election 2020” tacking place at the IT University of Copenhagen.

Axel Bruns, known for his extensive research on Twitter, started off by talking about the policital landscape in Australia. The case of political campaigning in Australia provides an interesting context as it raises the questions whether the law enforcing compulsory voting at federal and state level encourages awareness of political issues and political actors or not. In this regard it can be stated that the main focus needs to be put on the swinging middle, which makes up 10-20% of Australian voters. Drawing on comprehensive research in relation to the hashtags #ausvotes, #qldvotes and #wavotes Bruns concluded that Twitter has evolved from a narrow “Twitterati” in-group tool to a mainstream campaign tool. The collected data further suggests that there is no relation between how often a politician is mentioned on Twitter and the final election outcome. Additionally, the dynamics of recent elections, which have largely favoured the conservative side, mean that the Australian conservative Coalition bloc, which has won a number of landslide elections, has yet to engage in the question how to use social media effectively. By contrast, social media are especially important for small Australian parties, which are active on social media but are systematically disadvantaged by the first-past-the-post system used in Australian elections.

The following presentation by Lisbeth Klastrup shed light on the Danish context. Danish politicians are active in the Facebook sphere since 2007 and have fully adopted the medium in 2011 when Facebook became a mainstream tool for politicial communication. By contrast, Twitter has only been used by early adopters in 2011 and is now slowly becoming a mainstream tool. Klastrup further talked about “defining moments” where the social sphere made an actual impact. In 2007, for example, invited Anders Fogh Rasmussen his Facebook “friends” for a run and therewith engaged with his online community offline. Another recent example is the refugee crises, where the hashtag #engangvarjegflygtning (rough translation: Once I was a refugee) has been used in relation to a social media campaign. In conclusion, Klastrup states that social media is no longer optional but needs to be strategically integrated in a meaningful way.

Sander Schwartz’ talk on “Facebook and the general Danish election” supplemented Klastrup’s talk and presented data gathered from 2011 to 2015. Schwartz started off by noting that Danish Facebook use is not declining, even through this is an often made claim. According to a recent study by Danish Radio, 62% of the Danish population use Facebook on a daily basis. This trend is confirmed when looking at how Danish politicians use social media: While in 2011 only 38 % of the candidates were active on Facebook pages, in 2015 62 % of the politicians used Facebook pages. Also, the use of Twitter accounts has risen considerably, from 15 % to 69 %. Overall, Schwartz noted a steep increase of citizen activity on Facebook. He believes that recent changes in the Facebook design have potentially led to this engagement.

Luca Rossi concluded the seminar by sharing insights from an annual data collection run by the DECIDIS research group, which will be published in the first quarter of 2016. The data shows that Facebook has fully penetrated the age group of 16 to 18 year olds Danes. This does not mean that all young Danes use Facebook intensively but that they have at least opened an account at some point. When contrasting Twitter and Facebook it can be stated that Facebook is still at the forefront, Twitter is mostly used by young Danes up to the age of 30.  A network analysis of different political hashtags used on Twitter shows that activity mostly happen around TV debates. Further, it can be stated that users typically re-tweet what they agree with, which leverages the problem of online echo chambers, in which competing ideas are typically underrepresented. In conclusion and as a summary of the seminar, it can be stated that Twitter is and will be an important medium gathering ad-hoc publics for live events as well as a (back)channel for politicians, journalists and so-called “political junkies”.


Invitation: Workshop & disussion with Axel Bruns (Digital Media Research Center, Australia)

Open discussion: Election Campaigning 2020

Tuesday 26th January,
Kl. 14.00 – 16.00
Room:  AUD 3 – ITU

Social Media have played a central role in recent elections all over the world. This is not a new trend, social media have been used more and more during the last fifteen years. From political blogs of early 2000 to the use of snapchat in 2015, we have seen various platforms and different strategies. What is going to happen next? How have election campaignes evolved and how will they evolve in terms of social media use? These question will be addressed by Axel Bruns – Queensland University of Technology, Lisbeth Klastrup – IT University of Copenhagen, Luca Rossi – IT University of Copenhagen and Sander Schwartz – IT University of Copenhagen. Everybody is kindly invited to participate.

Open workshop: Advanced Twitter Analytics Using TCAT and Tableau

When working with large social media datasets, quantitative and mixed-methods approaches that draw especially on visual representations of ‘big data’ have become an indispensable part of the scholarly research and publication process. This data analytics and visualization workshop will focus on a number of emerging standard tools and methods for large-scale data analytics, using Twitter data to illustrate these approaches. The workshop will introduce you to the open-source platform TCAT as a capable and reliable tool for data gathering from the Twitter API, and to the high-end data analytics software Tableau as a powerful means of processing and visualizing large datasets.

Monday 25th January
Kl. 14.00 – 17.00
Room: 3A18 – ITU

Dr. Axel Bruns, Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia

Please note:
The workshop is open to everybody but email registration is required. Please send an email to lucr@itu.dk if you plan to attend the workshop. Participants should bring their own laptops with Tableau installed (http://get.tableau.com/) – the trial version is enough to participate the workshop.

New publication: The Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics

Routledge CompanionEditors Axel Bruns, Gunn Enli, Eli Skogerbø, Anders Olof Larsson, and Christian Christensen have taken on the task to put together a research compendium on Social Media and Politics that includes six continents. Therewith they go beyond established research in the US and UK and shed light on how Social Media is used for political protests, campaigns, and communication arcoss the globe. DECIDIS researchers Christina Neumayer and Luca Rossi are part of this experiment and have each contributed with up-to-date research.

Christina Neumayer’s chapter compares the formulation of antagonistic relationships and self-representation by fascist and anti-fascist groups in social media. Her argument draws on a qualitative analysis of communication and self-representation in social media and media coverage related to marches planned by nationalist groups in former East Germany as well as counter protests by anti-fascist groups, NGOs, and civil society. The chapter concludes that the use of social media in resistance at both ends of the political spectrum is only partially dependent on a group’s political ideology, and is more dependent on a group’s self-representation as marginalized and oppositional.

Luca Rossi compared together with Mario Orefice (University of Urbino Carlo Bo) Facebook and Twitter data collected during the 2013 Italian general election. Their chapter explores the central role of social media in contemporary election campaigns. While the role of social media is largely accepted, the question which specific social media site has the largest influence in voters’ decisions and how the various social media interacts with mass media is an open debate. The chapter concludes by showing how, in the Italian context, Twitter is largely dependent on TV political talk shows and how neither of the two observe social media can provide a representative picture of the whole political debate.

New Study: Media Literacy in Denmark

media literacy studyThe study “Media Literacy in a Danish Context” was carried out in collaboration with The Agency for Culture in Denmark and the Media Council for Children and Youth. The purpose of the study was to investigate the level of media competences and media literacy in Denmark and to identify key elements for further studies and initiatives in relation to media literacy. An important scope of the study was to involve a wide range of the Danish population across age, address, background, and media use. Not least, because this project is part of the Agency for Culture’s overall objective on mapping the media development in Denmark.

In total, the project visited and interviewed 20 families who live in the five regions in Denmark. The analysis shows that the participants are quite competent media users with variations across different media. It also indicates that competences are only one aspect of literacy and there were also big differences in how they approached media critically and how they reflected on the role of media in their everyday lives. Generally participants felt that media make their everyday life easier, even though using media fills big parts of it.

The report concludes and recommends that further investigations are needed and suggested new full scale studies focussing on the major groups of ordinary Danes, respectively those with special issues and needs, and finally the very marginalized citizens. All groups require specifically focused studies and initiatives for raising the media literacy level.

The summary and the full report (in Danish) can be found here: http://slks.dk/mediernes-udvikling-2015/specialrapporter/media-literacy-i-en-dansk-kontekst/

A summary in English will be posted in January on this blog.

Contact for more information: stald@itu.dk

DECIDIS visits Centre for Digital Citizenship at Leeds University

Gitte Stald from DECIDIS visits the research group at the Centre for Digital Citizenship at the University of Leeds November 23 and 24. The Centre is lead by Professor Stephen Coleman who participated in a symposium at the IT Unviersity in Copenhagen in June, arranged by DECIDIS under the heading: Democracy & Citizenship in Digital Society.

Professor Coleman is the author of a number of prominent books, journal articles and conference papers within this area. Most recent publications are How Voters Feel; Can The Media Serve Democracy?  and Handbook of Digital Politics. All scholars at the Centre for Digital Citizenship are involved in research that is highly relevant for DECIDIS which the collective body of publications demonstrate. Read more here and here.

DurinLeeds Universityg her visit at Leeds University Gitte Stald will present DECIDIS to the
group and give a talk on “Managing citizenship in digital society”. She will also have the opportunity to discuss various research topics with a number of the participants of the group.

In focus at IGF: Human rights and the internet

Questions about human rights occur in multiple of the workshops, panels, open fora and plenary sessions at this year’s Internet Governance Forum in Joäo Pessoa, Brazil. It mainly refers to the right to have access to the internet, respectively how human rights can be protected through exploiting the positive opportunities of the internet and preventing the negative consequences.

The human rights topic obviously occurs in relation to the ambition to provide opportunities for the poor around the globe, in particular referring to “the next billion” to get online, and mainly in developing countries although it is still an issue for some groups in the developed parts of the world. It is mentioned that we cannot have half of the world not being connected to what has developed to be the central nervous system of global and local economy, culture, education, information etc.

We also hear from many participants that provide evidence for the specific difficult conditions for suppressed women and how online access could potentially support and strengthen their situation. We hear evidense about how e.i. hate speech encourage to violent opposition towards refugees around the globe, hence making the situations of refugees (often referred to here as migrants which may not be the same) much more difficult and that laborates ideological, cultural, emotional divides.

Another emerging but strong issue, that appears in many debates is the question about radicalization of especially youth, It has been underlined that i.e. critical opposition is not to be defined as radical positions even if it is perceived and treated as such in some countries. It has also been strongly stated that the internet as such is not the cause of radicalization, but merely a trigger or a channel. The contextual, cultural, social conditions in each country and for each child define the risk and the potential radicalization of the child or young person. The internet can just as well be seen as a resource for countering violent radicailzation or to understand the contexts and alter them. All in all, litP1000147eracy is a way to counter negative violent agency and support constructive uses.

Many other areas have come op and will continue to do so in the future. It seems that the focus on human rights in relation to internet access, use and governance has come to stay at IGF and will continue to develop in future fora.



Gitte Stald from DECIDIS participates in IGF – Internet Governance Forum 2015 that takes place between November 9th and 13th in Joäo Pessoa, Brazil. Around two thousand participants convene  from all parts of the world in order to hear about and debate important issues about how the internet should be governed for the benefit of everyone. The participants come from  various organisations, the political / governmental level, industry, academia, NGOs etc, hence they represent the multi-stakeholder perspective that has been promoted as a major ambition over the past 4-5 fora. This year’s main theme is “Evolution of Internet Governance: Empowering Sustainable Development”. The sub themes are: Cybersecurity and Trust; Internet Economy; Inclusiveness and Diversity; Openness; Enhancing Multistakeholder Cooperation; Internet and Human Rights; Critical Internet Resources and Emerging Issues. Many other issues are brought up during these five days, i.e. Internet of things; net neutrality; zero-rating (hot topic in many debates); ; the right to be forgotten; death online; Children’s rights online online activism; developing countries specific challenges; the suppression of women who are prohibited from internet (media/information/communication); and many, many more.

Find more information about the program here. It is possible to follow the livestream from some of the debates. Transcripts andvideos from all panels and workshops will be available here.



DECIDIS goes to Phoenix

DECIDIS is going to be present at the upcoming IR16 conference organised by the Association of Internet Researchers in Phoenix, AZ from 21-23 October.

We’ll be presenting some of our ongoing research through the three days of the conference:
During the pre-conference activities Luca Rossi is co-organising a workshop on Social Media research methods “#FAIL! Things That Didn’t Work Out in Social Media Research – And What We Can Learn From Them” and he’s giving a talk with the title “The fourth deadly sin of social media researchers (or: scientific research and unstable socio-technical platforms)“.

Thursday Luca is also presenting the paper “From Moon to Comet Landing: re-imagining (scientific) media events in the Age of Twitter“, while Friday he’s participating in the panel “Adoption and Adaptation: Diachronic Perspectives on the Growing Sophistication of Social Media Uses in Elections Campaigns” where he’s presenting a focus on the Italian case.
Saturday Gitte Stald is presenting her paper ” Would you vote from your mobile? Young Danes’ perceptions of the Mobile as a Democratic Tool and Symbol”.

It’s going to be a very busy week for DECIDIS people in the sunny Phoenix but we’ll try to update the blog and the live-tweet the conference as much as we can.

Playing Politics – When computer games meet politics

DECIDIS people also really liked today’s C2 seminar …

5 October, 2015, 10.00-12.00 / IT University of Copenen

Riot Simulator

Leonard Mechiari C2 event 051015

RIOT is a riot simulator based on real events that have been influencing the western civilization in the past few years. It includes 4 main campaigns set in: Italy (NoTAV movement), Greece (Battle of Keratea), Spain (Indignados movement), and Egypt (Tahrir Revolution).  More information about the riot simulator: http://riotsimulator.org/, Official trailer on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jWYCXneCn8.

Leonard Mechiari, previously an Editor/Cinematographer at Valve, and developer of the Riot Simulator about himself: “I’m developing an RTS-like videogame based on social conflicts.”

Speakers: Leonard Mechiari, developer of Riot Simulator; Susanna Tosca, IT University of Copenhagen, and Ayoe Quist Henkel, Aarhus University.

The three speakers will present two cases of computer games that are highly controversial due to their politics. Critical questions are raised when ethics, critical game design, provocation, civic unrest, riots, public outrage and the history of slavery meet visuals, aesthetics, rhetoric, design, storytelling and code.

Slave Tetris?

Susana Tosca C2 event 051015

Susanna Tosca is an associate professor in the Culture and Communication research group at the IT University of Copenhagen. Ayoe Quist Henkel is a PhD fellow at the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University.

There has recently been a lot of public outrage about a Danish produced game, Playing History 2- Slave Trade (Serious Games), which included a mini-game in which the player (recommended for ages 8-14) had to stack slaves formed as Tetris pieces into a ship. The game mechanics was intended to provoke disgust so as to create social conscience. But can children decode procedural rhetoric in the right way? What are the ethic dilemmas related to children’s consumption of fiction and games? We will introduce this case, including material from the game producers and open the floor for a discussion of ethics and kids digital media consumption.


New course from DECIDIS triples student sign-ups

The DECIDIS course Digital Democratic Citizenship runs for the second time this semester. “In the course we critically evaluate what happens at the intersection of digital media technology and democratic citizenship,” says Christina Neumayer, course coordinator and lecturer. Since last semester, sign-ups have tripled and students across the different study programs at the IT University attend the course.


The course aims to enable students to apply analytical thinking to critically dissect utopian and dystopian claims about digital democratic citizenship, relate discussions to a larger historical context, identify, evaluate, and apply different theoretical lenses on digital democratic citizenship. The course focusses on getting the students to discuss what citizenship is and what it means in a digital and democratic perspective.

A current student says that, “The course is taught on a high level and introduces notions from political science, philosophy and technology studies. It might sound dry and boring but it feels highly relevant, not just for my future job situation but also for my everyday life. The course provides a critical approach to the internet as a democratic space, and challenges notions of equal participation. It almost makes me want to be an activist!”