Threats to democracy on the net



In addition to the undisputed benefits of digital media for social cohesion, which are also desirable in terms of democratic policy, anti-democratic and anti-constitutional dynamics such as fake news, hate speech, conspiracy narratives, calls for violence and breaches of the constitution are increasingly causing concern. In order to counteract these tendencies and better engage citizens who see themselves as disconnected, marginalised and susceptible to conspiracy narratives in a democratic discourse, it is first necessary to find out how these dynamics currently operate in geo-social media or platforms.


The project aims to develop the basic principles in order to make both political actors and the public aware of a possible need for regulation and design in the communications sector and to adapt educational and civil society measures accordingly. Another aim of the project is to explore the analytical possibilities of advanced methods of data analysis for the purpose of identifying and evaluating democracy threatening content in the geo-social web. Furthermore, these methods should be applied in a social science context to create the necessary foundations that will be further developed and implemented in a follow-up project.


In order to develop measures and strategies to counteract such anti-democratic
developments on the part of politics, education, science and civil society it is necessary to examine

  • how and via which digital media and platforms the movement is networked,
  • what significance is attributed to individual actors,
  • how and to what extent links, followers, re-tweets, etc. are used to establish

Communicative references are made to each other within Austria and to international networks and established media.

Project Partners and Funders
Bernd Resch (project co-lead)
Umut Nefta Kanilmaz, Roland Holzinger, Christian Wasner, Charlotte Spencer-Smith, Corinna Peil, Ricarda Drüeke, Thomas Steinmaurer,