VENI grants for Andreu Casas and Philipp Masur!

We have some fantastic news to share: two CCS.Amsterdam researchers were granted prestigious NWO VENI research grants! Congratulations to Andreu Casas and Philipp Masur!

See brief project summaries below.

Free Speech and Censorship in the Digital Society: A computational study of the determinants and effects of political speech regulation by social media companies
Andreu Casas, VU Amsterdam
Private social media companies increasingly play a role in regulating (political) speech online, posing a clear threat to democratic accountability. Due to a lack of transparency and independent research, we do not clearly know the conditions under which platforms regulate speech, nor the effects (and effectiveness) of their policies. Challenges related to analyzing big SM data have made it difficult for research on this pressing topic to flourish. I ramp-up this research by leveraging innovative computational methods to disentangle the nature of this new speech regulation paradigm, as well as its effects on the politically-relevant behavior of users.

Bad influence through social media: How online behavioral contagion propagates problematic behaviors and what we can do against it
Philipp Masur, VU Amsterdam
Social media facilitate the adoption of problematic behaviors (e.g., incivility) or risky practices (e.g., disclosing too much). But the exact psychological mechanisms and ways to protect against negative consequences of such behavioral contagion effects are unknown. This project combines experimental, tracking, and simulation methods to study online behavioral contagion and its boundary conditions. The project further analyzes whether media literacy protects against irrational adoption of problematic behaviors and tests whether subtle nudges embedded into the social media design can buffer against negative influence on social media.

CCS.Amsterdam workshop on code quality!

In-person workshop at the VU University Amsterdam.

The first part of the workshop on code quality organised by Wouter van Atteveldt and Urja Khurana took place yesterday. As expected during these times, it was taught in hybrid fashion: online and in-person at the VU University Amsterdam.

Code should be readable and reusable, but the how-to’s are not often taught in a computational social science curriculum. Wouter and Urja filled in the gaps by covering the what and why, structure, documentation, typing and testing! The workshop participants were also challenged to improve some (intentionally badly written) Python code.

The follow-up workshop will take place on March 17, 2022.

Want to know more about improving the quality of your code? Check out the materials of this workshop on GitHub.

CCS.Amsterdam @ ICA 2022

We are excited to announce that a large number of CCS.Amsterdam’s submissions were accepted for the upcoming conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in Paris France, 26-30 May 2022. Keep an eye out for the following presentations! And do not forget to sign up to the pre-conferences!


  • Jan Kleinnijenhuis; Anita Van Hoof; Mariken van der Velden; Wouter van Atteveldt. From COVID-19 to controversial freedom restrictions in the media, from incumbency bonus to political fragmentation.
  • Theo Araujo; Jef Ausloos; Wouter van Atteveldt; Felicia Loecherbach; Judith Moeller; Jakob Ohme; Damian Trilling; Bob van de Velde; Claes Vreese; Kasper Welbers. TOOL DEMO – OSD2F: An Open-Source Data Donation Framework. [preprint]
  • Felicia Loecherbach; Judith Moeller; Damian Trilling; Wouter van Atteveldt. Don’t miss the long tail: Website classification to identify local and niche news.
  • Kasper Welbers; Farzam Fanitabasi; Wouter van Atteveldt. CCS Annotator: Easy deployment of expert and crowd coding tasks on browser and mobile phone. [github]
  • Wouter van Atteveldt; Dafne van Kuppevelt; Kasper Welbers. [Tool demo] CAVA: An open source R toolkit for dictionary Coherence, Adaptation, Validation, and Analysis.
  • Bartosz Wilczek; Neil Thurman; Mario Haim; Natali Helberger; Antske Fokkens; Wouter van Atteveldt; Helle Sjøvaag. AI adoption patterns in local journalism: Current use and future potentials in the German media market.
  • Nicolas Mattis; Philipp Masur; Judith Moeller; Wouter van Atteveldt. Nudging news diversity: A theoretical framework for facilitating diverse news consumption through recommender design.
  • Mónika Simon; Kasper Welbers; Anne Kroon; Damian Trilling. Linked in the Dark: A network approach to understanding information flows in the Telegramsphere.
  • Rupert Kiddle; Mónika Simon; Kasper Welbers; Anne Kroon; Damian Trilling. Mapping dark platforms: Exploring the influence of entity, content and context over Telegram information flows.
  • Marieke van Hoof; Corine Meppelink; Judith Möller; Damian Trilling. Searching for Bias: How Political Attitudes impact Search Queries about Political Issues.
  • Zilin Lin; Kasper Welbers; Susan Vermeer; Damian Trilling. Beyond discrete genres: Mapping news items onto a multidimensional framework of genre cues.
  • Cornelius Puschmann; Patrick Zerrer; Yuru Li; Damian Trilling. The kids are alright? Age, gender and social media engagement with alternative news.
  • Damian Trilling; Erik Knudsen. Drivers of news sharing: How context, content, anduser features shape sharing decisions on Facebook.
  • Farzam Fanitabasi, Mariken van der Velden. A Stance Detection Pipeline for Multilingual Political Text. [github]
  • Moritz Laurer; Wouter van Atteveldt; Andreu Casas; Kasper Welbers. Identifying Political Concepts with NLI-BERT – Analysing Large Communication Corpora without an Annotation Budget.
  • Niklas Johannes; Philipp K. Masur, Matti Vuorre, & Andrew K. Przybylski. How should we investigate variation in the relation between social media and well-being?
  • Amanda Purington; Philipp K. Masur; Natalie Bazarova, Ellen Wenting Zou, & Janis Witlock. The Youth Social Media Literacy Scale: Scale Development and Validation Using Item Response Theory.


  • Felicia Loecherbach; Josephine Lukito; Jacob Fisher; Frederic Hopp. Hackathon: Opening Computational Communication. [details]
  • Erik Knudsen; Bartosz Wilczek; and others. Understanding the Dynamics of (Ir)Responsible AI in Journalism and Algorithmically Shaped News Flows. [details]

First CCS.Amsterdam workshop: Working with Git(hub)!

Working with Git on the command line! (We swear Kasper didn’t look this angry the whole time.)

The CCS.Amsterdam mini workshops kicked off with a workshop on Git(hub)! Many thanks to Kasper, Wouter and Sanne for organising this!

We covered the basic stuff (what is Git, what is Github, init, clone, add, commit, push, pull) and the more advanced features (branches, forks, pull requests), tricky problems (oops I committed my API key) and convenient tools for writing better code (Codacy, Travis, Dependabot).

Couldn’t attend this workshop but also interested in learning more about Git? Check out the materials for this workshop on Github.

Stay tuned for more mini workshops!

Zilin and Mónika join the team!

We are happy to announce that two great PhD students join in February: Zilin Lin and Mónika Simon!

Zilin and Mónika will be working on the ERC Starting Grant funded project NEWSFLOWS Modeling News Flows: How Feedback Loops Influence Citizens’ Beliefs and Shape Societies. They will be using online field experiments, data donations and automated content analysis to study how information spreads in today’s media ecosystem. Zilin will be supervised by Damian Trilling, Susan Vermeer and Kasper Welbers, and Mónika’s supervision team consists of Damian Trilling, Anne Kroon and Kasper Welbers. Both Zilin and Mónika are recent graduates from the research master in Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam.

We are very happy Amsterdam got to keep them, and we are looking forward to working with you on these topics!

First place for CCS.Amsterdam members in Dutch Public Broadcaster’s Hackathon On Diverse Recommenders!

On 9 and 10 October, a UvA-VU team consisting of Myrthe Reuver, Felicia Loecherbach, Nicolas Mattis, Sanne Vrijenhoek, and Marijn Sax took part in a 24-hour hackathon organized by the Dutch Public Broadcaster NPO. The teams were ask to help build solutions to promote diverse content to NPOstart users. The Geeky Griffins (as the team was called) built a new explore feature, as well as a match me up feature which — in line with a longstanding Dutch tradition — allows users to sneak a peek into the digital living room of other people through their open curtains. After deliberations by an expert jury, The Geeky Griffins were declared the winners of the hackathon.


More information about the hackathon can be found on the mediaperspectives website.

Marieke and Nicolas join the team!

We are happy to announce that two new and very talented PhD students will join team in September:

Marieke van Hoof will be researching Polarizing Issue Publics: the interplay of human choice and algorithmic selection, as part of the Digital Society initiative at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, UvA. In this we will study the role of the digital media environment and AI in causes and effects of polarizing and radicalizing issue publics using two case studies, for example, the anti-5G movement, and the vaccination movement. Marieke has already been a part of CSS Amsterdam during her research master in Social Science, and we are very happy to welcome her back. She will be supervised by Judith Möller, Corine Meppelink, and Damian Trilling.

Nicolas Mattis will work on the NWO funded project Rethinking News Algorithms, where he will use lab and field experiments to model how news users react to news recommendations: what stories do they actually read, does it matter how the stories are presented, and how can we fine-tune the recommender algorithm to nudge them to consume a more balanced news diet? Nicolas is originally from Germany and did a research master in Communication Science at the UvA. During his research master, he focused on using automated research methods to study how digitalisation and commercialisation impact journalism and society. He will be supervised by Wouter van Atteveldt and Judith Möller.

Welcome both to the team and we are very much looking forward to working with you to answer the pressing questions you will be working on!

Two new grants for

We are starting the holiday season in a very festive mood with good news on two grant applications related to news algorithms and diversity:

Rethinking news algorithms: nudging users towards diverse news exposure: We improve news algorithms to stimulate people to read more diverse news. Algorithms such as used by Facebook and Google can unwittingly trap people in a “filter bubble”. Nudging people to read about more topics and perspectives makes them more aware of issues facing the country.

Algorithms for freedom of expression and a well-informed public: Recent concerns about filter bubbles, fake news and selective exposure are symptomatic of the disruptive potential of digital recommendations, but also demonstrate the power of responsible recommender design Much depends on the design of news recommenders. Are they merely designed to generate clicks and short-term engagement? Or are they programmed to balance short term engagement and relevancy with the legitimate longer-term interest of users in diverse information and not losing out on important information?

3 VENI grants for researchers

Fantastic news to start the summer: three researchers were granted the prestigious NWO VENI individual research grants of 250kE each. Congratulations to Judith Möller, Mariken van der Velden, and Kasper Welbers!

See brief project summaries below, and check back here later to see the full project descriptions and research progress.

Vocal, Visible and Vaulting? (Dis)connected niche audiences in the age of artificial intelligence
Dr J.E. (Judith) Möller, UvA – Amsterdam School of Communication Research

This project studies the impact of algorithmic filter systems and artificial intelligence on specific segments of the population and niche audiences (fringe bubbles). It will contribute to our understanding of the consequences of AI for the public debate and the cohesion of the public sphere.

A Promise is a Promise! Unfolding the Electoral Ramifications of Political Compromises
Dr M.A.C.G. (Mariken) van der Velden, VU

Nowadays, political compromises seem to be extremely unpopular. This poses a problem for politicians’ ability to form stable coalitions to govern. My project studies the ramifications of compromises for politicians’ communication and voter behaviour utilizing virtual reality techniques, experiments and computational textual approaches.

Gatekeeping in the era of fake news: The effects of trust on online news consumption behaviour
Dr K. (Kasper) Welbers, VU – Communication Science

Despite much debate about the state of trust in online news sources, we know little about the effects of trust on online news consumption behavior. I link digital trace data with a panel-survey and content analysis to investigate these effects in unprecedented detail to enrich the media trust debate.

Computational Communication Research: Inaugural Issue

We are very happy to announce the inaugural issue for Computational Communication Research! The articles are currently in production, but you can access the preprints using the links below.  Please help us spread the word!

We would like to thank all reviewers, submitters, and editorial board members for contributing to the journal and for their feedback on this introduction. We would also like to thank Amsterdam University Press and especially our gold sponsors (Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamThe Network Institute, the University of Amsterdam / ASCoR) and silver sponsors (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, The Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara, and the Computational Communication Science Lab of the University of Vienna), for making this journal possible.Looking forward to your submissions and reviews in the coming months!CCR Inaugural Issue[]

A Roadmap for Computational Communication Research [draft version]
Wouter van Atteveldt, Drew Margolin, Cuihua Shen, Damian Trilling, René Weber

iCoRe: The GDELT Interface for the Advancement of Communication ResearchFrederic R. Hopp, Jacob T. Fisher, René Weber

An Experimental Study of Recommendation Algorithms for Tailored Health Communication
Hyun Suk Kim, Sijia Yang, Minji Kim, Brett Hemenway, Lyle Ungar, Joseph Cappella:

News Organizations’ Selective Link Sharing as Gatekeeping: A Structural Topic Model Approach
Chankyung Pak

Computational observation: Challenges and opportunities of automated observation within algorithmically curated media environments using a browser plug-in
Mario Haim, Angela Nienierza