Theses

Information on theses at the Research Group Digital Communication and Transformation

We put together all relevant information on signing up and completing a thesis in a Moodle course. It is mandatory to look at the information carefully before contacting us.

Follow this link for all information on theses

We oversee theses on the following fields, among others. In the following, you will find proposed topics as well as open topics for theses. You are free to suggest your own topics as well. In general, it is also possible to write theses in cooperation with companies.

We expect you to think about a possible focus of your thesis in the run-up to a first meeting.

Available theses topics

Multilingual Fake News Detection

Target Group:

Bachelor/Master

Requirements:

Social Media Analytics, Data Mining, Machine Learning

Contents:

Misinformation is a vital societal problem, and it appears in many different forms e.g. Text, image. Often, a part of true information is left out or repurposed to produce misleading articles. Misinformation opens much demand for future research. Technology for identification and evaluation is necessary to support the effort to eliminate wrong and misleading information. In the long term, misinformation may damage the trust in media and create harm for the discourse within society. Analysis of misinformation is limited to English but equally spread in another language, so in the thesis, the goal is to analyse multilingual fake news detection on social media. The analysis could be on Text on multi-modal like text/image both.
The thesis can be supervised and written in English only.

Literature:

  • Shahi, G. K., Dirkson, A., & Majchrzak, T. A. (2021). An exploratory study of covid-19 misinformation on twitter. Online social networks and media, 22, 100104.
  • Shahi, G. K., & Nandini, D. (2020). FakeCovid--A multilingual cross-domain fact check news dataset for COVID-19. arXiv preprint arXiv:2006.11343.
  • Shahi, G. K. (2020). Amused: an annotation framework of multi-modal social media data. arXiv preprint arXiv:2010.00502.
  • Nakov, P., Da San Martino, G., Elsayed, T., Barrón-Cedeno, A., Míguez, R., Shaar, S., ... & Mandl, T. (2021, March). The CLEF-2021 CheckThat! lab on detecting check-worthy claims, previously fact-checked claims, and fake news. In European Conference on Information Retrieval (pp. 639-649). Springer, Cham..

Contact:

Gautam Kishore Shahi

AI and the Future of Knowledge Work

Target Group:

Master

Requirements:

Expert Interviews/Qualitative Methods

Contents:

The digitization of the world of work affects individuals and organizations alike. Across industries, technological and structural progress offers new potential for individuals to re-organize their work independently of time and place. In this context, phenomena such as ‘digital nomadism’ or even 'corporate nomadism' have emerged. At the same time, the technological frontier of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping many industries. This thesis aims to explore the role of AI in current work practices of independent knowledge workers and how it alters their work identity.

Literature:

  • Prester, J., D. Cecez-Kecmanovic, and D. Schlagwein, “Becoming a digital nomad: Identity emergence in the flow of practice”, 40th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2019, (2019)
  • Leonardi, P.M. COVID-19 and the New Technologies of Organizing: Digital Exhaust, Digital Footprints, and Artificial Intelligence in the Wake of Remote Work. J. Manag. Stud. 2020.
  • Schlagwein, D., and M.H. Jarrahi, “The Mobilities of Digital Work: The Case of Digital Nomadism”, ECIS 2020 Research-in-Progress Papers, 89, 2020.
  • Wang, B., D. Schlagwein, D. Cecez-Kecmanovic, and M.C. Cahalane, “Beyond the Factory Paradigm: Digital Nomadism and the Digital Future(s) of Knowledge Work Post-COVID-19 Dialectical Reasoning for Envisioning the Future” Journal of the Association for Information Systems 21(6), 2020, pp. 1379-1401.

Contact:

Julian Marx

ICT and Social Connectedness in Virtual Organizations

Zielgruppe:

Master

Anforderungen:

Expert Interviews/Qualitative Methods

Inhalte:

Recent upheavals in the world of work have put many organizations in the position of forced virtualization, turning their extant working practices upside down. In parallel to this development, however, increasing numbers of virtual organizations surface in the IT sector and beyond. These organizations rely heavily on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and work fully remote, with many of their employees practicing digital nomadism. A supposed problem of such organizations is the formation and maintanance of social connectedness among its members. To better understand how virtual organizations approach this problem, this thesis aims to compile a case study of virtual organizations from different sectors. This could be underpinned by Social Identity Theory (or a similar lens). An alternative approach would be to approach only one case organization and using Grounded Theory Methodology.

Literatur:

  • Vecchi, A. 2019. “Global Work Arrangements and Talent Management in the Born-Virtual Organization: The Case of Automattic,” in Research Handbook of International Talent Management, pp. 144-185.
  • Richter, A., P. Heinrich, A. Stocker, and G. Schwabe, “Digital Work Design”, Business & Information Systems Engineering 60(3), 2018, pp. 259–264.
  • Asatiani, A., and Penttinen, E. 2019. “Constructing Continuities in Virtual Work Environments: A Multiple Case Study of Two Firms with Differing Degrees of Virtuality,” Information Systems Journal (29:2), pp. 484–513.
  • Wang, B., D. Schlagwein, D. Cecez-Kecmanovic, and M.C. Cahalane, “Beyond the Factory Paradigm: Digital Nomadism and the Digital Future(s) of Knowledge Work Post-COVID-19 Dialectical Reasoning for Envisioning the Future” Journal of the Association for Information Systems 21(6), 2020, pp. 1379-1401.

Kontakt:

Julian Marx

Exploring the Identity of Knowledge Workers in a Digital World

Zielgruppe:

Master

Anforderungen:

Qualitative Methods/Quantitative Methods

Inhalte:

The ongoing development of information technology (IT) enables organizations to introduce digital work as the new normal. Therefore, employees face new forms of work that might decrease personal interaction and increase interaction with IT. Nevertheless, these new ways of work entail that individuals cannot do their jobs with the same values and convictions as they are used to. Furthermore, location-independent work such as home office or digital (corporate) nomadism is on the rise in the digital landscape.

However, there is a constant change that might impact self- beliefs constituting professional identity at work, i.e., the perception of one's role in the workplace. Experiencing a new work situation that contradicts one's identity might lead to a loss of self-esteem and a threat to identity. As emerging technologies have changed the landscape and experiences of various professions, various touchpoints correlate with the identification at work. The digitization of the workplace emphasizes the demand for digital work as the new normal in organizations.

Thus, this thesis aims to explore novel factors that might influence a digital knowledge worker's identity at the workplace. To this end, several methods could be applied. Students may choose or connect qualitative and quantitative methods such as a systematic literature review, (Expert) Interviews, or online experiments with (digital) knowledge workers.

This thesis will need a solid theoretical foundation considering an identity perspective. To this end, possible theoretical foundations are (1) IT-Identity, (2) Organizational Identity, (3) Social Identity Theory, or (4) Sociomateriality.

Literatur:

  • Prester, J., D. Cecez-Kecmanovic, and D. Schlagwein, “Becoming a digital nomad: Identity emergence in the flow of practice”, 40th International Conference on Information Systems, ICIS 2019, (2019)
  • RMirbabaie, M., Stieglitz, S., Brünker, F., Hofeditz, L., Ross, B., & Frick, N. R. J. (2021). Understanding Collaboration with Virtual Assistants – The Role of Social Identity and the Extended Self. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 63, 21-37
  • Carter, M., Grover, V., & Clemson University. (2015). Me, My Self, and I(T): Conceptualizing Information Technology Identity and its Implications. MISQuarterly, 39(4), 931–957. https://doi.org/10/gf5sg7
  • Carter, M., Petter, S., & Compeau, D. (2019). Identifying with IT in a Digital World. In ICIS 2019 Proceedings (p. 10). Presented at the International Conference on Information Systems, Munich.
  • Burke, P. J., & Stryker, S. (2016). Identity Theory: Progress in Relating the Two Strands. In New Directions in Identity Theory and Research (pp. 657–810). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Kontakt:

Felix Brünker

Supporting Ethical Decision Making in Recruiting Processes Through Virtual Assistants in Digital Work

Zielgruppe:

Master

Anforderungen:

Online Experiment / Onlinestudie

Inhalte:

Even prior to Amazon’s discriminatory human resources (HR) software or Microsoft’s racist chatbot, the dangerous sides of artificial intelligence (AI) have become points of public and scholarly relevance as well as interest (Dastin 2018). With AI-based technologies becoming more capable (Loebbecke and Picot 2015), they have become a key driver of digitalization (Verweij and Rao 2017), significantly influencing and transforming organizations. Business organizations are facing challenges regarding the opportunities and consequences of an increasingly AI-based economy (Russell and Norvig 2016).

In this context, research often addresses ethical principles for AI, with the goal of not harming humans, not discriminating, and not being biased (Floridi et al., 2018; Yampolskiy 2016). However, events such as the VW emissions scandal have shown that unethical decisions are often made by humans (Stieglitz et al., 2019). Even in the near future, AI-based systems will not yet act fully autonomously; rather, they will assist humans in their work (Mirbabaie et al., 2021). Therefore, the question arises how AI-based assistant systems can guide humans to make ethical decisions (Brendel et al., 2021).

One process where unethical behavior can often be observed in companies is the hiring process of new employees (Dastin 2018). In some cases, women are less likely to be hired, certain minority groups are discriminated against in the recruitment process, or there is little overall transparency about the hiring process.
This work thus aims to examine how AI-based assistance systems can encourage people to make ethical decisions in the hiring process. For this purpose, an (online) experiment is to be conducted in which participants in two different groups are supposed to make hiring decisions together with a virtual assistant. In one of the two groups, the virtual assistant will use digital nudging to encourage the participants to make ethical decisions.
The goal of the work is to gain knowledge about how people can make ethical decisions at work by applying AI-based assistance systems.

Literatur:

  • Brendel, A. B., Mirbabaie, M., Lembcke, T., & Hofeditz, L. (2021). Ethical Management of Artificial Intelligence. Sustainability, 13(4), 1974; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041974.
  • Dastin, J. 2018. “Amazon Scraps Secret AI Recruiting Tool That Showed Bias against Women,” Reuters. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-jobs-automation-insight/amazon-scraps-secret-ai-recruiting-tool-that-showed-bias-against-women-idUSKCN1MK08G).
  • Floridi, L., Cowls, J., Beltrametti, M., & Chatila, R. (2018). AI4People — An Ethical Framework for a Good AI Society: Minds and Machines, 28(4), 689–707. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11023-018-9482-5
  • Loebbecke, C., and Picot, A. 2015. “Reflections on Societal and Business Model Transformation Arising from Digitization and Big Data Analytics: A Research Agenda,” The Journal of Strategic Information Systems (24:3), pp. 149–157.
  • Mirbabaie, M., Stieglitz, S., Brünker, F., Hofeditz, L., Ross, B. & Frick, N. (2021). Understanding Collaboration with Virtual Assistants – The Role of Social Identity and the Extended Self. Business and Information Systems Engineering (BISE), 63, 21–37.
  • Russell, S. J., and Norvig, P. 2016. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, Pearson Education Limited.
  • Stieglitz, S., Mirbabaie, M., Kroll, T. & Marx, J. (2019). ‘Silence’ as a Strategy during a Corporate Crisis - The Case of Volkswagen’s ‘Dieselgate’. Internet Research (IR), 29(4), 921-939.
  • Yampolskiy, R. V. 2016. “Taxonomy of Pathways to Dangerous Artificial Intelligence,” in Workshops at the Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

Kontakt:

Lennart Hofeditz

Digital Nudging to overcome hierarchy in organizations

Zielgruppe:

Master

Anforderungen:

Mixed Methods

Inhalte:

Hierarchies are omnipresent in organizations. They form the chain-of-command and sometimes provide the required stability in complex enterprise environments (Knight and Mehta 2017). (Hogg 2010) point out that given hierarchical power can alter people’s behavior. Despite positive intentions, it can easily lead to negative effects that hinder innovation (R. A. M. Mudambi 2011) and an organization's performance in general (Leavitt 2005; Meske et al. 2020). Digital nudging was suggested as a new way of guiding users towards to optimal decision. It seeks to optimize formerly negative decision-making processes and persuade the user towards the better decision (Weinmann et al. 2016). In the discipline of information systems, digital nudging was found to positively influence the user adoption (Gregor and Lee-Archer 2016; Thaler and Sunstein 2009) and effectiveness of application usage (Hummel and Maedche 2019). Nudging was applied in various contexts to verify positive influence on behavior (Meske and Potthoff 2017; Stieglitz et al. 2017). Yet, the application in the context of organizational hierarchy is missing. Research currently lacks the link between digital nudging in information systems and hierarchy in an organizational context. Thus, overcoming these hierarchical distances is both key and potentially benefiting from the new and subtle form of persuasion, digital nudging. First studies identified an accelerated effect of nudges when influenced by hierarchical power (Kretzer and Maedche 2018), however the opposite has not been elaborated on yet.
The study is a mixed-method study and has two parts. First, interviews with experts are conducted to find out what burdens exist with hierarchy. This will allow the validation of findings in literature that hierarchy forms an obstacle in the way towards an increased productivity in the digital age. In addition, the interviews should reveal what the examples and use cases are that hierarchy is impacting. This will contribute to the study by (1) verifying the hypothesis that hierarchy can be an inhibitor for productivity, (2) detailing out where the obstacles are (including their relative strength so prioritization is possible) and (3) what intentions of the interviewees are to overcome those obstacles. The interviews should be done with a target number of 12 participants conducted in an organization of at least around 100 employees. The second part is an experiment that will test a designed digital nudge, which was derived from the interviews. Depending on the interview outcomes, the strongest inhibitor for productivity should be chosen, preferably with backing from previous literature. This will allow the design based on the input from the interviews as well as previous research background and results. The nudge then should be tested at the same or another company in an automated way.

Literatur:

  • Gregor, S., and Lee-Archer, B. 2016. “The Digital Nudge in Social Security Administration,” International Social Security Review (69:3–4), pp. 63–83. (https://doi.org/10.1111/issr.12111).
  • Hogg, M. A. 2010. “Influence and Leadership,” in Handbook of Social Psychology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470561119.socpsy002031).
  • Meske, C., Kissmer, T., and Stieglitz, S. 2020. “Bridging Formal Barriers in Digital Work Environments – Investigating Technology-Enabled Interactions across Organizational Hierarchies,” Telematics and Informatics (48), Elsevier Ltd. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tele.2020.101342).
  • Stieglitz, S., Potthoff, T., and Kißmer, T. 2017. “Digital Nudging Am Arbeitsplatz,” HMD Praxis Der Wirtschaftsinformatik, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, pp. 1–12. (https://doi.org/10.1365/s40702-017-0367-5).

Kontakt:

Tobias Kissmer

Sciebo und Open Science: Soziotechnische Gestaltungsempfehlungen für ein verbessertes Management von Forschungsdaten

Zielgruppe:

Bachelor/Master

Anforderungen:

Qualitative Inhaltsanalyse

Inhalte:

Um dem Gedanken der offenen Wissenschaft zu folgen, wird ein präzises Forschungsdatenmanagement (RDM) immer wichtiger. Mit dem Aufkommen datenintensiver Forschungsmethoden geht der Wunsch nach offen zugänglichen Daten einher (Link et al., 2011). Die Open-Science-Idee ist aber nicht nur aus der intrinsischen Bereitschaft der Forscher, ihre Daten zu teilen, entstanden (Wilms, Stieglitz, Buchholz, Vogl & Rudolph, 2018), sondern ist vielmehr auf die von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) veröffentlichten Richtlinien zurückzuführen. Eine Folge davon ist, dass Forschungseinrichtungen und Drittorganisationen begonnen haben, e-Science-Technologien wie Datenspeicher und digitale Forschungsumgebungen zu entwickeln (Kim & Zhang, 2015, Vogl et al., 2015). Auf operativer Ebene gibt es jedoch keine geeignete Infrastruktur und die Dienstleistungen sind nur unzureichend mit den RDM-Schritten verknüpft. Aus diesem Grund hat die Universität Duisburg-Essen in Zusammenarbeit mit der Universität Münster und Bielefeld begonnen, eine modulare RDM-Infrastruktur unter Berücksichtigung der bestehenden Dienste zu integrieren, um den offenen Wissenschaftsanspruch zu unterstützen (sciebo RDS). Ein wesentlicher Aspekt des Projekts ist die Entwicklung und Verbesserung niedrigschwelliger Dienste, die zu einer verstärkten Nutzung von RDM-Richtlinien bei potenziellen Nutzern führen werden.

Im Rahmen dieses von der DFG geförderten Projektes wurde eine erste begleitende Studie durchgeführt. Ziel dieser Studie war es, herauszufinden, unter welchen Bedingungen Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler aus verschiedenen Disziplinen den Empfehlungen des RDM folgen und entsprechende Dienste nutzen. Dazu wurde ein theoriegeleiteten Interviewleitfaden erstellt und 15 halbstrukturierte Experteninterviews durchgeführt. Ziel der Interviews war es, ein besseres Verständnis für den Umgang mit Forschungsdaten aus verschiedenen Disziplinen zu gewinnen und Vorschläge zu sammeln, wie die Berücksichtigung von RDM-Schritten durch eine geeignete Infrastruktur und bestehende Dienstleistungen verbessert werden kann. Außerdem wurde gefragt, welche technischen und psychologischen Mechanismen erfolgreich eingesetzt werden können, um das Bewusstsein für die offene Wissenschaftsidee zu erhöhen. Dabei wurden verschiedene hierarchische Positionen und verschiedene Forschungsdisziplinen von drei Universitäten abgefragt.

Auf Basis dieser Interviewdaten sollen in dieser Abschlussarbeit nun anhand der Actor-Network-Theory konkrete Handlungsempfehlungen zur Verbesserung des Managements von Forschungsdaten am Beispiel von Sciebo abgeleitet werden, die anschließend implementiert werden können.

Literatur:

  • Kim, Y., and Zhang, P. 2015. “Understanding data sharing behaviors of STEM researchers: The roles of attitudes, norms, and data repositories,” Library & Information Science Research, (37:3), pp. 189–200 (doi: 10.1016/J.LISR.2015.04.006).
  • Vogl R., Angenent H., Rudolph D., Thoring A., Schild C., Stieglitz S. and Meske C. 2015. „sciebo – the Campuscloud for NRW”, European Journal of Higher Education IT (EJHEIT) (2:3), pp. 1-12. (Winner of the Elite Award for Excellence).
  • Vogl, R., Rudolph, D., Thoring, A., Angenent, H., Stieglitz, S., & Meske, C. (2016). How to build a cloud storage service for half a million users in higher education: Challenges met and solutions found. Proceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2016–March, 5328–5337. https://doi.org/10.1109/HICSS.2016.658
  • Wilms, K., Brenger, B., López, A., Rehwald, S. (2018). Open Data in Higher Education – What Prevents Researchers from Sharing Research Data?. In: Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS).
  • Wilms, K., Meske, C., Stieglitz, S., Decker, H., Fröhlich, L., Jendrosch, N., Schaulies, S., Vogl, R. and Rudolph, D. (2017). Digital Transformation in Higher Education – New Cohorts, New Requirements?. In: Proceedings of the 23rd Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS)

Kontakt:

Lennart Hofeditz

Giving advice on cyber threats

Target Group:

Master

Requirements:

Online Experiment / Online study

Contents:

Nowadays we have adopted a variety of technological devices into our lives that we use on a daily basis. Among these technologies are numerous devices that are connected to the internet. This makes them vulnerable to cyber-attacks from individuals with malicious intent.

In order for end-users of these technologies to handle such threats, they need to be informed about current cyber threats and how to handle them in case they become a victim of such an attack.

Therefore, it is important to understand the behavior of the end user in seeking out such information and the factors that influence the end-users behavioral intention to follow or ignore warnings in regard to cyber threats when they are presented with information about current threats.

Thus, this work aims at identifying such factors and their information-seeking behaviors through an (online) experiment where participants are surveyed in regard to their behavioral intention when presented with such information and how they seek out such information.

The aim of this work is to acquire insights into factors that might influence the end-user to act appropriately when experts provide them with information about cyber threats and how to handle them.

Literature:

  • Kovačević, A., Putnik, N., & Tošković, O. (2020). Factors Related to Cyber Security Behavior. IEEE Access, 8, 125140-125148.
  • Nicholson, J., Coventry, L., & Briggs, P. (2019, May). " If It's Important It Will Be A Headline" Cybersecurity Information Seeking in Older Adults. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1-11).
  • Gratian, M., Bandi, S., Cukier, M., Dykstra, J., & Ginther, A. (2018). Correlating human traits and cyber security behavior intentions. computers & security, 73, 345-358.

Contact:

Ali Sercan Basyurt

Effective Use of the VR Application Spatial for Collaboration in an Enterprise Context

Target Group:

Master

Requirements:

Interviews, confidence in conducting interviews in English, high engagement during the recruitment of interview partners

Contents:

Virtual reality (VR) collaboration platforms enable employees to engage in a more natural conversation, perceive non-verbal cues, and collaborate in a distraction-free environment. The VR collaboration platform Spatial has been highly successful, especially since the widespread home office policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many large companies such as LARVOL, Mattel, Pfizer, BNP Paribas, Ford, Nestlé Purina, and Enel SpA use Spatial for collaboration and interactive meetings. For example, the fully remote company LARVOL moved their headquarters into Spatial, while companies such as Mattel and Ford bring diverse teams of designers, engineers, and manufacturers from around the world into Spatial project rooms to co-design new products.

Nevertheless, collaborative meetings in VR are still rather an exception than the rule, and it remains an open question how VR can be used effectively especially in light of the wide range of other available meeting options such as face-to-face meetings, phone calls, and video conferencing tools. Therefore, the goal of this thesis is to understand what constitutes effective use behavior regarding VR for collaboration in an enterprise context. In this regard, the literature on effective use theory and the affordance network approach as a methodological step-by-step approach to understanding effective use behavior will serve as a good starting point for engaging with the topic.

To gain insights regarding the research questions, interviews with employees who use Spatial for collaboration purposes should be conducted. As the target group might not be easy to recruit for interviews, a high excitement for the topic and engagement regarding the recruiting process is required. Furthermore, a certain confidence in talking English is required since some interview partners might work at international companies. A good start could be to contact the Spatial company itself and the abovementioned companies who already use Spatial. While working on the thesis, the candidate has the opportunity to rent an Oculus Quest headset from the chair, allowing them to try out Spatial (and other apps) themselves and meet with interview partners in their Spatial environment to get a better impression on how companies are using this environment.

Literature:

  • Spatial (2020). LARVOL Uses Spatial As Their Virtual Headquarters. https://spatial.io/blog/larvol-vr-office
  • Burton-Jones, A., & Grange, C. (2013). From Use to Effective Use: A Representation Theory Perspective. Information Systems Research, 24(3), 632–658.
  • Burton-Jones, A., & Volkoff, O. (2017). How can we develop contextualized theories of effective use? A demonstration in the context of community-care electronic health records. Information Systems Research, 28(3), 468–489.
  • Fromm, J., Mirbabaie, M. & Stieglitz, S. (2020). The Effects of Virtual Reality Affordances and Constraints on Negative Group Effects during Brainstorming Sessions. In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik (WI), Potsdam, Germany.

Contact:

Jennifer Fromm

How actors with contrary goals influence the social media activities of Fridays for Future

Target Group:

Bachelor / Master

Requirements:

Interviews

Contents:

Fridays for Future is an environmental movement that is highly successful in using social media to educate about environmental issues, coordinate themselves, and mobilize people for protests. In recent interviews, we gained a good understanding of how Fridays for Future activists use social media to reach their movement goals. During these interviews, it often came up that not only the social media activities of the movement itself matter. Instead, activists raised the issue that they must deal with the social media activities of actors with goals contrary to the ones of the movement. Examples mentioned were Fridays for Hubraum or private persons with right-wing extremist views. Fridays for Future had to deal with actors who tried to get into their WhatsApp groups to spread right-wing extremist views, who personally attacked them via direct messages on Facebook, or who organized a coordinated shitstorm.

Despite the opportunities social media offers for social movements, especially in times of the pandemic, the actions of these actors can constrain Fridays for Future in reaching their movement goals. The goal of this thesis is to investigate more closely what impact the actions of actors with contrary goals have on the social media use of Fridays for Future and how the movement adapts their usage behavior to counteract the effects and reach their goals nonetheless. To research the topic, the technology affordances and contraints theory should serve as a theoretical lens. The main idea behind the theory is that technologies such as social media offer action opportunities (affordances) on the one side but also constraints that hinder actors at reaching their goals. However, previous research focused mainly on how a single individual, group or organization perceives and realizes affordances and constraints, while the interplay with other actors might offer opportunities for extending the theory.

The research questions could be answered by conducting additional interviews with Fridays for Future activists that focus on this topic in more detail. The transcripts of the previously conducted interviews can be provided by the chair and could serve as a starting point to engage with the topic and identify issues related to actors with contrary goals that could be explored deeper in the thesis.

Literature:

  • Pozzi, G., Pigni, F., & Vitari, C. (2014). Affordance theory in the IS discipline: A review and synthesis of the literature. Proceedings of the Americas Conference on Information Systems.
  • Majchrzak, A., & Markus, M. L. (2012). Technology affordances and constraints in management information systems. In E. Kessler (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Management Theory (pp. 832-836), Sage.
  • Harindranath, G., Bernroider, E., & Kamel, S. (2015). Social media and social transformation movements: The role of affordances and platforms. Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Systems.
  • Dumitrica, D., & Felt, M. (2019). Mediated grassroots collective action: Negotiating barriers of digital activism. Information, Communication & Society, 23(13), 1821–1837.
  • Sergeeva, A., Huysman, M., Soekijad, M., & van den Hooff, B. (2013). “No user is an island” onlookers, affordances, and the impact of mobile devices on work practices. Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems.

Contact:

Jennifer Fromm

The emergence of digital disinformation campaigns on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic

Target Group:

Bachelor / Master

Requirements:

Systematic Literature Review, Social Media Analytics

Contents:

In crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the public needs reliable information to assess the situation and act appropriately. To get information quickly, many are increasingly turning to social media. However, fake news, conspiracy theories and digital disinformation campaigns make it difficult to form an opinion there. Fake news circulates, leading to protective measures not being implemented and human lives being put at risk (e.g., washing hands does not help). In addition, conspiracy theories are circulating that can harm the cohesion of our society and trigger social unrest (e.g., theories about certain ethnic or religious groups as the origin of the virus).

The European Commission also warns that certain individuals are deliberately instrumentalizing false information. With digital disinformation campaigns, for example, foreign actors try to undermine democratic debate, exacerbate social polarization, and improve their own image in the crisis. Through the coordinated spread of disinformation - often using social bots - these actors are able to create an artificial distortion of opinion on social media. Digital disinformation campaigns can cause the public to lose trust in security-related actors and reduce their willingness to comply with pandemic protection measures.

Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to gain a better understanding of the emergence of digital disinformation campaigns in order to derive preventive measures for authorities and organizations with security tasks. In a systematic literature review, the current state of research on the emergence of digital disinformation campaigns will be surveyed in a first step. In addition, social media analytics will be used to gain further insights into the emergence of real disinformation campaigns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Literature:

  • Karlova, N. A. & Fisher, K. E. (2013). A Social Diffusion Model of Misinformation and Disinformation for Understanding Human Information Behaviour, Information Research (18:1).
  • Rofrío, D. et al. (2019). Presidential Elections in Ecuador: Bot Presence in Twitter, Proceedings of the International Conference on eDemocracy & eGovernment.
  • Shao, C., Ciampaglia, G. L., Varol, O., Yang, K.-C., Flammini, A., & Menczer, F. (2018). The spread of low-credibility content by social bots. Nature Communications, 9(1), 1-9.
  • Tran, T., Valecha, R., Rad, P. & Rao, H. R. (2020). An investigation of misinformation harms related to social media during humanitarian crises. Communications in Computer and Information Science, 167–181.
  • Varol, O., & Uluturk, I. (2018). Deception strategies and threats for online discussions. First Monday, 23(5-7).

Contact:

Jennifer Fromm

Open topics

Social media analytics 

  • Misinformation in Social Media -  Contact
  • Automated communication in social media - contact
  • (Digital) science communication - Contact
  • Echo chambers and filter bubbles in social networks - Contact

Communication and Collaboration

  • Conversational Agents in Virtual Collaboration - Contact  &  Contact 
  • Organizational Change in times of Artificial Intelligence -  Contact 
  • Digital Ethics -  Contact   &   Contact