Vol. 3 No. 1 (2023)

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    Posting from the Past
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Frentzel-Beyme, Lea; Holtze, Merle; Szczuka, Jessica M.; Krämer, Nicole C.
    Historical figures have been increasingly brought into the Instagram world, providing insights into the past from a first-person perspective by addressing followers in stories or posts. This type of representation promotes the parasocial interaction (PSI) that creates the illusion of a face-to-face interaction with a media figure. This suggests the possibility that historical Instagram accounts might offer a novel platform for history education.
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    Innovating Democracy?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Thiel, Thorsten; Berg, Sebastian; Rakowski, Niklas; Clute-Simon, Veza
    The article concerns the case of #WirVsVirus, a civic hackathon organized in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and officially endorsed by Germany’s federal government. It aims to address the normative implications of this politically oriented technological format. Specifically, it asks how civic hackathons formulate and negotiate different political representation claims. Our analysis shows that the hackathon constituted a successful representative claim on behalf of civic tech initiatives vis-à-vis the administrative state. While this claim primarily concerned establishing a new format for efficient and subsidiary problem-solving in the wake of the crisis, the hackathon’s participatory promises have only been partially fulfilled. The hackathon was rather open to input from civil society, enabling it to attract substantial public interest. Nonetheless, its technological-organizational structure and competitive, solution-oriented procedures meant that decision-making power remained largely with the hackathon’s organizers.
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    Empty Transparency?
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Jansen, Martin-Pieter; Krämer, Nicole
    Political micro-targeting describes the use of data to identify members of a target audience and send messages designed to fit their views and resonate with them. The practice has received considerable attention of late, especially around questions of transparency. This study explores one potential solution to this quandary, namely, disclosure labels. Adopting a pre-registered online one-factorial three-group between-subjects experimental design, we have investigated how different types of disclosure labels for micro-targeted advertisements impact source and message credibility, as well as source trustworthiness. Furthermore, we have investigated the potential mediating effect of persuasion knowledge on these effects. We exposed 227 German Facebook users to either a Facebook advertisement without a disclosure label, a sponsored disclosure label, or a targeting disclosure label that stated they were targeted based on their online behavior. The results demonstrate small and non-significant differences between groups regarding source and message credibility and source trustworthiness, with no mediation by persuasion knowledge observed. Additionally, most participants did not recall the disclosure we exposed them to, potentially explaining these small effects within our sample. In conclusion, our targeting disclosure approaches were insufficiently informative. Hence, we argue that platforms should put more effort into improving transparency for their users than they currently do.
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    Commodification and Disruption
    (Weizenbaum Institute, 2023) Seidl, Timo
    There is little disagreement that digital technologies are transforming contemporary economies and societies. However, scholars have only begun to systematically think about how digitalization – the process whereby more and more of what we say, think, and do becomes mediated by digital technologies – is both driven by and transformative of capitalism. This paper argues that when one speaks about digitalization, one cannot be silent about capitalism. It reconstructs commodification and disruption as key features of capitalist development. It then shows how three digital revolutions – the platform, (big) data, and artificial intelligence revolutions – have ushered in a new wave of commodification and disruption, giving rise to digital capitalism. Finally, it discusses the challenges commodification and disruption pose in the form of redistribution of resources, rebalancing of power, rule adaption, and market re-embedding. The paper brings together a wide range of scholarship to offer a historically and theoretically grounded framework for how to think about and study the rise of digital capitalism.