Digitalization is changing public and interpersonal communication in almost all areas of society. Research at the DIID aims to investigate the effects of digital communication on the perception of socially relevant issues, how it affects the attitudes and actions of citizens and political actors, and the risks and dangers associated with extremism, populism and state intervention. Given their ambivalent potential, DIID research focuses on the development of tools that are able to maintain and promote trust in democracy and its institutions.

  • Automated analysis of online-communication

  • Deviant Online Communication

  • Conflicts and confidence-building in online deliberation processes

  • Self-organised communication platforms

Automated analysis of online-communication

Techniques for the automated analysis of large text contributions and the identification of topics, argument structures, sentiments and emotions.

  • How can text contents be automatically clustered and classified?
  • How can expressive sentiments be distinguished from opinions and arguments?
  • How can the design of input formats support automated analysis?
  • How can patient discussions on diabetic online forums be automatically summarized and interpreted?

Deviant Online Communication

Extremist and terrorist communication strategies, hybrid warfare and online communication of criminal organizations.

  • What are the conditions, structures and consequences of deviant online communication?
  • How is deviant communication used by political actors?
  • Which typologies and theoretical approaches to deviant online political communication can be developed?
  • How can the openness of online communication be protected against anti-democratic abuse?

Conflicts and confidence-building in online deliberation processes

Social and institutional conditions for the development of political trust in conflictual online deliberation.

  • What contribution can conflictual online deliberation in a pluralistic society make towards building trust in democratic norms?
  • What are the social mechanisms of political confidence-building in conflictual online deliberation and under what conditions will these mechanisms become effective?
  • Which escalation dynamics can evolve in controversial debates in various contexts of online communication?
  • What impact do the social embeddedness and institutional design of online deliberation have on conflict patterns and trust?


Self-organised communication platforms

Technical foundations for secure and robust communication systems in decentralized peer-to-peer networks under precarious conditions.

  • How can communication platforms be established that are neither vulnerable to censorship nor deactivation?
  • How can decentralized information networks be set up without an internet connection?
  • How can the robustness, security and quality of such decentralized networks be guaranteed?


Prof. Dr. Stefan Conrad (vice speaker)

01. Board, Computer Science, DIID-Team

Stefan Conrad is full professor in computer science at Heinrich Heine University in Duesseldorf since 2002.  He has a chair for databases and information systems.  Since 2015 he is member of the Academic Senate of the Heinrich Heine University.

His research considers the analysis of large data sets, in particular, he is interested in image retrieval, the analysis of large time series, clustering, and text mining.  He has on-going cooperations with industrial partners.  Several of these cooperations were funded by the BMWi (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) in a research and development programme for small and medium enterprises. These projects dealt with opinion mining (sentiment analysis), extraction of product features relevant for users, and automated text summarization. At DIID his research interest is currently focused on automated topic extraction and content analyses of texts as well as identifying argument structures, sentiments, and emotions.


0211 / 81-14088
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Gebäude: 25.12, Etage 02, Raum 24

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Vowe

Communication Studies

Since 2004 Prof. Dr. Gerhard Vowe is professor of Com-
munication and Media Studies at the Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf. He is spokesperson of the DFG (German Research Fund) research group “Political Com-
munication in the Online World”.

His study interest comprise political online communication, media politics and security issues in mass media. As part of the DIID, he is interested in deviant forms of political online communication.


0211 / 81-11540
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Gebäude 37.03, Etage 02, Raum 11

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulf Tranow


Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulf Tranow is assistant professor of Sociology at the Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf since 2013.

His research interests include sociological theories of action, social mechanisms of normative integration as well as problems of collective good and their solutions. At DIID, he is interested in the social, societal and institutional conditions for building political confidence in conflicting online deliberation processes.


0211 / 81-15269
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Gebäude 37.03, Ebene 03, Raum 05

Jun.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Kálmán Graffi

Computer Science

Junior Professor. Dr.-Ing. Kálmán Graffi has been a junior professor at Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf since 2012 and heads the working group “Technology of Social Networks” at the Institute of Computer Science.

His research includes investigating new social interaction opportunities over the Internet, as well as new mechanisms and protocols for highly scalable and secure distributed systems. At DIID, his interest lies in the technical basis for secure and robust communication systems in Edge Computing networks under precarious conditions.


0211 / 81-11692
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Gebäude 25.12, Etage 02, Raum 42