The role of algorithms for producing and curating content as well as potential outcomes of these mechanisms is one of the most discussed issues in existing communication research. A broad variety of communication fields and processes are currently touched on by algorithms, ranging from news exposure, public opinion forming, information retrieval, and political communication processes among others. However, little is known about the operating modes of algorithms and to study them is empirically challenging. As such, algorithms shape communication processes as “hidden actors” and might form a breeding ground for concerns and fears about their negative impact. Public and scientific debate about whether Trump won the elections with the help of microtargeting-techniques or if the Brexit-vote would have been different without the (assumed) algorithmic driven campaign of the Brexiteers are just two popular examples.
However, besides this discourse pointing to a predominantly negative or alarming role, a scientific sound and objective consideration of algorithms as actors in digital (mass) communication is still scarce and communication research has just started work on that field.
Therefore, it is the aim of this special issue of Digital Communication Research to present current perspectives, research strategies and results from communication scholars on “Algorithms and Communication”. As such, the special issue searches for theoretical and empirical research papers as well as systematic literature reviews that scrutinize the role of algorithms in digital communication processes from various perspectives.
For more information, please see the Call for Papers.