Ulrike Klinger


Ich bin Professorin für Digitale Demokratie an der European New School for Digital Studies an der Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), wo ich das Digital Campaigns and Elections Lab (DiCE) leite, und Assoziierte Forscherin am Weizenbaum Institut für die Vernetzte Gesellschaft in Berlin. Im Fokus meiner Forschung stehen die politische Kommunikation, der Wandel digitaler Öffentlichkeiten und die Rolle von Technologien in demokratischen Gesellschaften.
Von September bis Dezember 2024 werde ich als Senior Fellow am Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles forschen.


I am Professor for Digital Democracy at the European New School for Digital Studies at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), where I build the Digital Campaigns and Elections Lab (DiCE), and Associated Researcher at the Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society in Berlin.  My research focuses on political communication, the transformation of digital publics, and the role of technologies in democratic societies.
From September to December 2024 I will be Senior fellow at the Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles


Thomas Mann Fellowship 2024: Von September bis Dezember 2024 werde ich als eine von 13 Stipendiat:innen  im Thomas Mann House in Los Angeles zum Thema Demokratische Vulnerabilität, soziale Medien und die Wahlkämpfe 2024 - eine transatlantische Perspektive forschen und diskutieren

Platforms, Power & Politics. From Algorithms to the Age of AI, Keynote zur Jahrestagung der Associazione Italiana di Comunicazione Politica, 09.06.2023, Turin

Platforms, Power, and Politics – How Social Media Impact Digital Societies, Keynote, University of Silesia, Poland, 04.03.2023

"Elon Musk hat Twitter nicht verstanden" - hier mein Interview in ZEIT ONLINE, 20. November 2022: https://www.zeit.de/politik/deutschland/2022-11/twitter-elon-musk-demokratie-mastodon 

Keynote zum 150. Geburtstag des Museums für Kommunikation Berlin: "Algorithmen und die digitale Gesellschaft" am 24. August 2022

Artikel zur "Ordnung der Plattformen" in neue Gesellschaft/Frankfurter Hefte: https://www.frankfurter-hefte.de/artikel/die-ordnung-der-plattformen-3391/

Podiumsdiskussion und Podcast: Antirassismus und Social Media. Diskussionsreihe: Was hält unsere Gesellschaft zusammen? ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius und Holtzbrinck Berlin,  27.4.2022, Podcast: https://www.zeit-stiftung.de/mediathek/videoundpodcast/podcast/

Interview about Disinformation, published in the Dossier "Media and Democracy in the Digital Age" by Heinrich Boell Stiftung Tel Aviv, Israel: https://il.boell.org/en/2022/03/04/disinformation-strategic-communication-its-purposeful-deliberate-strategic-dissemination

Podcast on Democracy, Reality, and Social Media with Jeremy Kinsman, Distinguished Fellow of the Canadian International Council and former Canadian Ambassador to the EU: https://opencanada.org/podcast/7-democracy-and-reality-with-ulrike-klinger-and-jeremy-kinsman/

An alumna of this fabulous summer school in 2007, I am making a comeback as part of the faculty in 2022: the Milan International Summer School of Political Communication


Zahlen zur Wahl: Zahlreiche Kurzanalysen zur Bundestagswahl 2021 sowie den Landtagswahlen im September 2021 gibt es hier: https://www.zahlen-zur-wahl.de https://www.zahlen-zur-wahl.de

Recent Publications

Are Campaigns Getting Uglier, and Who Is to Blame? Negativity, Dramatization and Populism on Facebook in the 2014 and 2019 EP Election Campaigns - open access 
Ulrike Klinger, Karolina Koc-Michalska, Uta Russmann
Political Communication, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2022.2133198

Relating to theories of dissonant public spheres and affective publics, we study negativity, dramatization, and populist content in political party Facebook posts across 12 countries during the 2014 and 2019 European Parliament Election campaigns. A quantitative content analysis of 14,293 posts from 111 (2014) and 116 (2019) political parties shows that negative emotion, negative campaigning, dramatization, and populist content has increased over this time. We show that political parties sought to evoke more negative emotions and generate more dramatization, engaged more in negative campaigning, and included more populist content in their Facebook posts in the 2019 EP election than in 2014. Further, we show that posts evoking negative emotions and dramatization and involving negative campaigning yield higher user engagement than other posts, while populist content also led to more user reactions in 2014, but not in 2019. Negative, exaggerated, and sensationalized messaging therefore makes sense from a strategic perspective, because the increased frequencies of likes, shares, and comments make parties’ messages travel farther and deeper in social networks, thereby reaching a wider audience. It seems that the rise in affective and dissonant communication has not emerged unintentionally, but is also a result of strategic campaigning.

From the Fringes into Mainstream Politics: Intermediary Networks and Movement-Party Coordination of a Global Anti-immigration Campaign in Germany - open access
Ulrike Klinger, Lance Bennett, Curd Knüpfer, Franziska Martini & Xixuan Zhang

Information, Communication & Society, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2022.2050415

Many liberal democracies have witnessed the rise of radical right parties and movements that threaten liberal values of tolerance and inclusion. Extremist movement factions may promote inflammatory ideas that engage broader publics, but party leaders face dilemmas of endorsing content from extremist origins. However, when that content is shared over larger intermediary networks of aligned supporters and media sites, it may become laundered or disconnected from its original sources so that parties can play it back as official communication. With a dynamic network analysis and various-time series analysis we tracked content flows from the German version of a global far-right anti-immigration campaign across different media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter, and collections of far-right and mainstream media sites. The analysis shows how content from the small extremist Identitarian Movement spread over expanding networks of low-level activists of the Alternative for Germany party and far-right alternative media sites. That network bridging enabled party leadership to launder the source of the content and roll out its own version of the campaign. As a result, national attention became directed to extremist ideas. 

Bot, or not? Comparing three methods for detecting social bots in five political discourses
Franziska Martini, Paul Samula, Tobias Keller, Ulrike Klinger
Big Data & Society, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1177/20539517211033566

Social bots – partially or fully automated accounts on social media platforms – have not only been widely discussed, but have also entered political, media and research agendas. However, bot detection is not an exact science. Quantitative estimates of bot prevalence vary considerably and comparative research is rare. We show that findings on the prevalence and activity of bots on Twitter depend strongly on the methods used to identify automated accounts. We search for bots in political discourses on Twitter, using three different bot detection methods: Botometer, Tweetbotornot and “heavy automation”. We drew a sample of 122,884 unique user Twitter accounts that had produced 263,821 tweets contributing to five political discourses in five Western democracies. While all three bot detection methods classified accounts as bots in all our cases, the comparison shows that the three approaches produce very different results. We discuss why neither manual validation nor triangulation resolves the basic problems, and conclude that social scientists studying the influence of social bots on (political) communication and discourse dynamics should be careful with easy-to-use methods, and consider interdisciplinary research.

The Power of Code: Women and the making of the digital world - open access
Ulrike Klinger & Jakob Svensson
Information, Communication & Society, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1962947

Most research on gender and digital communication centers on how women use digital media, how they participate online, or how they are treated in online forums and social media. This article, in contrast, approaches gender from a behind the screen perspective. How algorithms and platforms are created, designed, and maintained, the affordances they provide for users and how they govern the ways users communicate with each other, has a major impact on digital communication. However, it is mostly men who create these technologies. Our study approaches technologies as socio-cultural, departing from the concept of network media logic. Empirically, it is based on (1) the review of a diverse body of literature from the history of programming, professional sociology, and computer science and documents such as the diversity reports from tech giants, as well as on (2) 64 semi-structured expert interviews conducted with male and female programmers in seven countries over a time-period of four years. Results show that the gender gap continues to run deep. We report results in four dimensions: professional culture, pervasive stereotypes, lack of role models and typical career paths.


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