Digital Public Sphere

Public discourse changes in the course of digital transformation. New technologies give rise to new media intermediaries – online services providing information – such as search engines, social networks or video platforms. Never have there been more options for participation and influence. In light of this digitalised public sphere, how do we ensure diversity, which is the basis for democratic opinion-forming?


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Crime scene democracy: digital media under suspicion

Digital media outlets have become a vital element in distributing and using political information as well as political coordination and participation. Nevertheless, digital media also raise concerns: they might affect political polarisation and contribute to the spread of false information. Fake news, bots, filter bubbles – the panel discussion shed light on these and other topics, discussing them within a broader context.

The formation of public opinion in the digital age

Facebook, YouTube, and Google – digitalisation gave rise to new players in forming opinions. This leads to a shift, or redistribution, of influence on public opinion. The bidt working paper “Meinungsmachtkontrolle und Vielfaltsmonitoring im digitalen Zeitalter“ reflects on terminologies that are inseparably linked to the discussion on the impact of social media.

Social media

Social media is the talk of the town. But what is the hype all about? What specifically makes this kind of media “social”? These are digitally connected technologies, enabling us to make information of all kinds accessible, form and foster social connections, participate in discussions, and share opinions. For that reason, social media comes with a specific set of challenges. One of them is the missing quality assurance due to the large quantity of online information, as opposed to the journalistic selection process in traditional media such as daily newspapers. In addition, the use of social media has led to discussions about data protection and copyrights.

Fake news

In the public discourse, fake news describes different phenomena, including disinformation. This includes news reports intentionally or verifiably based on wrong, misleading, or fictitious facts.


Influencers use their social media reach to influence consumer decisions, opinions, or actions. Many influencers fund their social media activities with product placements they integrate into the stories they tell about their daily lives.

In Focus



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Steliyana Doseva

Researcher, bidt

Dr. Margret Hornsteiner

Head of Communications and Dialogue, bidt

Jan Schillmöller

Associated Researcher, bidt

Prof. Dr. Hannah Schmid-Petri

Member of bidt's Board of Directors | Chair of Science Communication, University of Passau

Dr. Andreas Wenninger

Research Coordinator, bidt