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)

Board, Computer Science, DIID-Team

Prof. Dr. Stefan Conrad has held the Chair of Databases and Information Systems at the Institute of Computer Science since 2002. He has been a member of the Senate of HHU-Düsseldorf since 2015. In his research, he works on issues related to the analysis of large data sets, especially in image retrieval, time series analysis, clustering, and text mining.
He has been cooperating with practice partners for many years, especially in several BMWi-funded ZIM projects on opinion mining, extraction of product features important for users, and automated text summarization.

At DIID, he is interested in researching techniques for automated topic detection and content analysis of text contributions as well as the identification of argument structures, subjective evaluations, and emotions.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Conrad was re-elected as Deputy Spokesperson of the DIID by the DIID General Assembly in December 2023.


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

Private: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Vowe

Communication Studies

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Vowe has held the Chair I for Communication and Media Studies at the HHU-Düsseldorf since 2004. He has been spokesman for the DFG research group “Political Communication in the Online World” since 2011. His research interests include online political communication, media policy, and security in the media.

Within the DIID, he is particularly interested in deviant forms of political communication in online contexts.


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

Dr. Ulf Tranow


Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ulf Tranow has been Junior Professor of Sociology at HHU-Düsseldorf since January 2013. His research interests include sociological theories of action, social mechanisms of normative integration, and collective good problems and their solutions.

In the context of DIID, he is interested in the social, societal, and institutional conditions for the formation of political trust in conflictual online deliberation processes.


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

Dr.-Ing. Kálmán Graffi

Alumni, Computer Science

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Kalman Graffi is Professor of Networks, Communication Systems and Cybersecurity at TH Bingen. Previously, he was Principal Scientist at Honda Research Institute Europe, leading the Reliable Systems & Software department, and in the period 8/2012 to 6/2019 DIID member and Junior Professor “Social Network Engineering” at the Institute of Computer Science at HHU-Düsseldorf. His research here includes the study of new social interaction capabilities over the Internet as well as mechanisms and protocols for highly scalable and secure distributed systems.

At DIID, he was interested in the technical foundations for secure and robust communication systems in decentralized peer-to-peer networks under precarious conditions. Currently, he is looking at how the industrial data processing of tomorrow can be privacy-preserving and privacy-compliant.


49 6721 409-705