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Project Launch HybriD

Research on communication systems and public opinion has focussed on disinformation for quite some time already. One thing has become very clear, at least since the aftermath of the U.S. election 2016, the influencing of the Brexit referendum or the ongoing manipulation during the war in Ukraine: campaigns of disinformation are being used in a targeted manner and can have enormous effects. But how does one identify perpetrators of such campaigns, are they traceable in real time, can action be taken against them? Project HybriD is trying to answer these questions. The joint project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). 

“Project HybriD: Detection of Disinformation Campaigns in Online Media” is made of an interdisciplinary operating research team. The project aims to develop a software-based analysis tool for detecting and analysing disinformation campaigns. Thus, the project team uses modern methods of analysis and integrates expert knowledge. The researches intend to identify disinformation patterns and derive specific disinformation archetypes from them. 

Project HybriD: Goals and Procedure

The goal of the joint project HybriD is to make disinformation campaigns recognizable in real time. To this end, the research team developes a software-based analysis tool that makes it possible to collect and evaluate large data streams of social networks and online media. This way, temporal patterns will become visible. The project also expands the current state of research on disinformation. 

Real-time analysis of large streams of data from online media and social networks should ultimately make it possible to identify disinformation campaigns and understand the strategies behind them. In this way, disinformation patterns, so-called “archetypes,” are to be identified. These identified patterns will provide recommendations for future action in combating disinformation campaigns. In addition, the project opens up new calls of action to design effective countermeasures. Those at the same time may not interfer with the “usual” flow of news and information in society.

For the further project development, guided interviews with experts from journalism and media will be conducted in order to support knowledge gain apart from the mechanical analysis. Thus, elements of science practices and online journalism will be used to identify parts of disinformation campaigns.

Partners and Funding

HybriD is a joint project consisting of several partners. The joint coordinator is the Department of Business Informatics at University of Münster under the direction of Prof. Dr. Grimme. The Department of Communication Studies at the University of Münster, headed by Prof. Dr. Quandt, is expanding its research on the characteristics, forms and temporal patterns of disinformation campaigns. HAW Hamburg, or more specifically the Department of Information headed by Prof. Dr. Stöcker, contributes wealthy experience in research on information systems.

Project HybriD is rounded off by the of the technological and algorithmic knowledge of complexium GmbH. Together with the Departement of Business Informatics, the company is responsible for data collection and analysis.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funds the joint project as part of the funding line “Agile Research – Detecting and Combating Digital Disinformation Campaigns”. The funding duration is three years. The projects is funded ultimately with 2.24 billion euros.