Berlin, March 30th, 2021 – Employing an approach that is unique in Germany, the newly founded Center for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy (CeMAS) will address the dangers of conspiracy ideologies, disinformation and right-wing extremism online. CeMAS non-profit activities will be funded exclusively with 2.8 million Euros over the next three years from founding sponsor the Alfred Landecker Foundation.
The announcement comes as a time when there is no longer any doubt that digitally scattered agitation, conspiracy ideologies and disinformation do not remain in the digital space but have real-world consequences. Look no further than the attack on the Capitol in Washington in which five people died, the conspiracy ideology and right-wing extremist terrorist attacks Germany in recent years, as well as numerous attacks on journalists and politicians.
CeMAS will provide evidence-based and theory-driven advice to politicians, investigative authorities and the media on these issues in order to prevent future attacks and assaults. Work will identify trends and movements at an early stage and adopting psychological, political science and cognitive science analysis to address issues. CeMAS will focus its investigations on the dynamics and interrelationships of conspiracy ideologies on networks like Telegram and YouTube networks.
Led by Pia Lamberty, PhD Researcher in Social and Legal Psychology and Josef Holnburger, a political data scientist specialising in conspiracy theories, the team also consists of co-founders Miro Dittrich, Jan Rathje and Rocio Rocha Dietz, multidisciplinary experts in new media, psychology, political and cognitive science. Their work, which is unique in Germany to-date, will allow CeMAS to analyze and classify communication and will be conveyed through proprietary innovative study designs, regular reports and detailed evaluations that will be made accessible to relevant authorities.
A major focus for the non-profit organization will be the investigation of the online-offline dynamics of conspiracy ideological networks, especially in light of the discourse on the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Our work takes place at the interface between science and society. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to combine civil society and scientific perspectives together if we are to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing liberal societies today." said Pia Lamberty, Managing Director of CeMAS.
"It is important not to be merely reactive to phenomena such as conspiracy ideologies and anti-Semitism, we must be proactive if we are to mitigate the effects of future crises, such as combating climate change or economic crises, which may cause similar ideological reactions to those we have observed during the pandemic." said Josef Holnburger, CeMAS executive director.
As the exclusive promoter, the Alfred Landecker Foundation will support CeMAS non-profit activities with a volume of 2.8 million euros over the next three years – creating the Landecker re|con Project within CeMAS.
"Our project work is startup and innovation oriented. At CeMAS, we see ourselves as an incubator, helping a new non-profit to quickly generate effective results. We are convinced that Pia Lamberty and Josef Holnburger and their team will make a lasting contribution in the fight against conspiracy ideologies, anti-Semitism and anti-democratic movements in digital spaces." said Dr. Andreas Eberhardt, Founding Director and CEO of the Alfred Landecker Foundation.