ICA 2019 Washington, D.C. – IMC presents research findings on analysis of fake followers


Fake followers, social bots and trolls are active participants in current interactions on Twitter: Researchers associated with the International Media Center (IMC) presented a selection of studies at the 69th annual International Communication Association (ICA) conference in Washington, D.C.

Looking at current research in the fields of media and communications studies, many conclusions previously drawn point to social media platforms as a breeding ground for misinformation and the manipulation of discussions across the media sphere. Fake followers – a subcategory of social bots – can clearly be identified as influential actors in this field. One of the studies presented by the IMC team at the international conference focused on the potential influence of fake followers on the popularity and visibility of tweets by U.S. politicians. The selection of accounts included elected representatives in the Senate and Congress on Twitter. As a result, it was concluded using proven research methods and models that a significant proportion of followers in both houses was not genuine, but rather social bots.

In addition to presenting the findings to a selected audience of research professionals, a new cooperation with scientists of Saint Petersburg State University and journalists of The Washington Post were initiated to enable future research projects. The latter are aimed at deepening the current investigations and enabling the application of proven toolsets on additional topical clusters. The IMC team (Bastian Kießling, Prof. Dr. Steffen Burkhardt, Tanja Drozdzynski, Jan Homburg) is looking forward to answering inquiries regarding the professional activities mentioned above. All contact details are mentioned below.

The “69th Annual ICA Conference” with its general theme “Communication Beyond Boundaries” took place in Washington, D.C. between May 24-28, 2019. About 3,600 scientists and researchers attended more than 500 sessions at the event that was initiated in 1950 by the academic International Communication Association (ICA). It is held annually in U.S. and international regions with a high density of research institutions. It focuses on showcasing current research finding to its more than 4,500 members in 80 countries.

Washington, D.C. is a hub for international cooperation in an academic field. The state-owned Smithsonian Institution acts as an educational organization that sponsors a variety of museums which are also covering the fields of media- and communication sciences. The privately-owned well-known “Newseum” focuses on the analysis of the current media landscape and offers a variety of exhibitions on topics such as press freedom and the history of the media in general.


Questions about our current research

Bastian Kießling


General Questions about the IMC

Jan Homburg

ICA 2019 Washington, D.C. //
IMC presents research findings on analysis of fake followers
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