Thesis Evaluation – How digital Developments impact Brand Uniqueness

Title: How digital Developments impact Brand Uniqueness

Subtitle: A Case Study on Personalization and Brand Equity MASTER THESIS

Supervisor: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Oliver KOLL Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism

University: The University of Innsbruck School of Management

Author: Philipp JUEN, B.A. Innsbruck, May 2019

This thesis has only some similarities to Janina Schindlers and my thesis, but it was the closest I could find. It was done for a Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism major, not a design-related discipline.

Level of design

The Master-Thesis has a pretty basic, standard design. It’s just done with Microsoft Word and there was clearly no focus on any further aesthetics needed.

Degree of innovation

Since it is a case study it is more of a representation of the state-of-the-art in the year 2019.


Philipp Juen wrote his thesis without company support (he was not paid for it or anything) and without any other team members. There was just the support of his family and his supervisor Univ.-Prof. Dr. Oliver KOLL. In addition, it is clearly visible in the work that the author has given his own thoughts to the researched topic and was thus able to present the connections.

Outline and structure

The work is well structured. Nevertheless, there is a major structural ambiguity. In my opinion I think it is better to place the list of tables, list of figures etc. at the end of the thesis and not in the beginning.

Degree of communication

Basically, the level of communication can be classified as good. Clear definitions of terms are given in the right place. This guides the reader well through the topic. However, there are some chapters in which many visual facts are described that could be made easier to understand with the support of pictures or graphics.

Scope of the work

I consider the total length of 93 pages to be appropriate for a master’s thesis. The topics are presented precisely and comprehensively.

Orthography and accuracy

Spelling as well as grammar, sentence structure etc. are in order. There are no serious errors to be found.


The number of sources used seems appropriate. The ratio of online sources to specialist literature (clear predominance of specialist literature) is also okay. However, the bibliography could be clearer, despite the alphabetical order (e.g. by dividing it into books, journals, etc.).

Gehmacher Home

Introduction to our Master Thesis Project

Customer Experience app with focus on AR-enhanced marketing opportunities and creation of a new unique selling point for the company Gehmacher based in Salzburg, by Janina Schindler and Carina Steindl.

About the company.

Our environment influences us. No matter if material or immaterial. We want to inspire you to surround yourself with beautiful things and thus create quality of life. With furniture and accessories in your home, the clothes you wear and beauty in your encounters. We believe that the beauty affects our life in a positive way.

There is hardly any other city that fits “living in beauty” as well as Salzburg. Beauty and excellence can be found in the impressive architecture, the style of the Salzburgers and in nature in the form of the mighty mountains and the Salzach. The Gehmacher house on the Alter Markt is located right in the heart of the city and has been owned by the Gehmacher family for over 100 years.

There are now three main areas at Gehmacher: HOME, CLOTHING and a Café. But there is a common philosophy behind this: to create quality of life through beauty. To create places where you can recharge your batteries, enjoy and experience joie de vivre. To create an atmosphere that inspires with the right interior and to underline the inner beauty with the right outfits. We are constantly in the process of developing our range and finding new things. Timeless and yet in tune with the times.

Gehmacher – a family company characterized by tradition and constant change. Once a specialist shop for bedding and curtains, which, after remaining undamaged in World War II, has developed into the address for furniture and lifestyle products. Today there are eight stores: HOME, CLOTHING, LIFESTYLE, RETTL X GEHMACHER, HIGH FASHION, OUTDOOR & CAFÉ, CLASSICS and N°8 reaching from Alter Markt to Waagplatz.

Gehmacher Salzburg Map

The persistent longing for beauty, atmosphere and experience has always driven us. Gehmacher changes with every generation. However, always with the aim of carrying on the legacy and giving it an individual touch. Gehmacher – a family company that is deeply anchored in its own values ​​and has its heart and focus on the future.

Social Media
Website Gehmacher


In order to turn the Gehmacher customers into fans and family and thus to bind them even more to the company Gehmacher, a Gehmacher customer app is going to be developed that will provide the customer with information, inspiration and other benefits. The app should also support the Gehmacher team with different features and create another USP for the company Gehmacher.

Concept Requirements
  • Web-based App
  • Marketing Tool
  • Easy to use and aesthetically appealing
  • Privacy
  • Support for the team and enrichment for the customers
  • UX Testing
  • Working Prototype ready for implementation
  • VIP (Stammkunden) speacial Discounts etc.; QR or NFC (according to individual sales)
  • Personalized Newsletter
  • „Personalized“ Posts – Feed (bsp. LinkedIn, etc.) Inspiration for the 3 areas (HOME, CLOTHING, CAFÉ)
  • Scheduling with salesperson (Private Shopping/ Interior Design Appointments)
  • Private event invitations via App
  • Stores and Contact persons are introduced (favorite advisor/salesperson)
  • Map cooperation opportunities (Products, Shootings, SM, etc.)
  • Link to SM Accounts & Website (Blog etc.)
  • Possibility for interactive outdoor advertising (AR, etc.)

Janina and me are starting with the project in the third (this) semester.

  • Janina Schindler B.A. & Carina Steindl B.Sc. (Research, Conception, UI/UX, Prototype, Basic Programming, Testing)
  • Project management & communication – Carina Steindl B.Sc.
  • Client: Otto Gehmacher G.m.b.H & CoKG – Julia Gehmacher B.A. (CEO), Franziska Lüdtke (Marketingteam), etc.

We split up the research into different topics and assigned them like follows (changes can happen during the research):

Research topics for the WS21/22:
  • Introduction to the Topic – Carina Steindl
  • AR in the Marketing field – Janina Schindler
  • General Market Research – Carina Steindl
  • Web or native App – Janina Schindler
  • CX & UX for apps in retail – Carina Steindl
  • USP enhanced CX – Janina Schindler
  • Personas, User Research – Carina Steindl
  • User/Customer journey, scenarios – Janina Schindler
  • Concepts for backend/team support – Carina Steindl
  • User Interface of comparable App – Janina Schindler
  • Image Tracking in AR – Carina Steindl
  • General CX in retail – Janina Schindler
  • User/Customer Journey on site in the store – Carina Steindl
  • AR critical consideration – Janina Schindler
Milestones WS21/22:
  1. Topic Assignments and Planning – 24.10.2021
  2. First discussion of research Results – 29.11.2021
  3. Presentation and workshop at the company – 06.12.2021
  4. Research & first ideation presentation online – 20.12.2021
  5. evtl. additional presentation & feedback round at the company – 21.01.2022
  6. Concept presentation – 31.01.22/KW6 2022

Additionally to the milestones we have a weekly jour fixe.

I got scammed!

Just recently I ordered a dress. Actually two dresses, but it was the same one just in different colors. You might wonder why? So, my sister is going to get married in August and I just fell in love with this dress at first sight.

It all started with a simple Instagram add and well, I just thought that nothing like this would ever happen to me, because I am way too smart and well educated for stuff like this (haha got a good reality check there). To be honest I was a little bit naive for believing that Instagram would do background checks on adds. Guess, what that is no happening! So, after clicking on the add I got forwarded to another page which seemed nice at the first sight.

I didn’t really read anything i just picked out the green and the blue variant of the dress and was super happy about the price, which should have been a broad hint, but well whatever. The next hint should have been that my credit card was declined three times, but hell I really wanted this dress. So, long story short, I asked my dad about his credit card and et voilà it worked.

Throughout all this time I did not even realize that something might be off about this page. I just was just wearing the so-called rose-colored glasses. The first time I got a bad feeling was when I did not receive an order confirmation, but still I really really wanted this dress so I just ignored it. Also, I told myself that this might be my own fault because I was deleting millions of e-mails like a crazy person this week and so maybe I just deleted it by accident.

However, after seemingly never ending three to four weeks of waiting for my holy grail I started suspecting something. Also did my father, who guess what, was not really happy about all of this. So, I decided to contact the customer support. Still hoping that there has just been some kind of mistake, but after receiving the first answer I kind of knew that something was just not the way it should be:

Dear customer, 

Thanks for your support and concern on our store.

Sorry for the inconvenience caused. The items are out of stock before, we have gathered some back and they arrived our warehouse today ,  we have wrapped it and will send it out within 3-5 days. The tracking number and tracking link would be emailed after shipment. Thank you for your patience.

Do., 22. Apr., 04:11

A week or so later, still no tracking number, no order number, no nothing. I wrote them again. This time I told them I would cancel the order and the payment and surprise surprise I got another answer from them including a tracking number and a site where I could track my package.

Once the order was shipped out, the tracking status will take a few days to be updated online by the shipper. 
Therefore, please hold on for 3-5 business days and try again later. 

Tracking number is UF850430075YP, this is tracking site: , you can follow it easily. 

Very sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.

05.05.2021, 04:33

If you click on this link you will get redirected to another page and if you then try to search for the tracking number, guess what, it will not be found. This was the point where my father and I actually tried to cancel the payment via the credit card institute just to find out that because of entering his 3D secure code the company can not do anything at all. As we learned, as soon as you enter you 3D secure code somewhere, you release the payment and there is no turning back.

Despite all of the previously mentioned stuff, I got another e-mail today with another tracking number etc.

26.05.2021 11:00 (vor 4 Stunden)

As you probably already thought, there is still no validation.

Sorry! No tracking info yet (or ever)

Long story short, I got scammed and now I have to find another dress for the wedding. Shit happens…

Correction: The dresses arrived, but guess that’s what feeling scammed feels like.

FactCheck vs. GlobalResearch

Comparative Analysis of fake and proper Fact-Checking Sites #P5

This post will be another comparison of fake fact-checking sites with real fact-checking sites and how there are differences in their design language (Typography, Images, etc.), the content (Expertise, Rigour, Transparency, Reliability) and the overall usability. It’s hard to find similarities that apply to the various pages, but this post will try to show the most common ones. Therefore I decided to compare InfoWars with ProPublica in the previous post and in this one Global Research with Fact Check.

Global Research vs. Fact Check.

Globalresearch is an “anti-Western” website that has troubles distinguishing between serious analysis and discreditable junk and so just publishes both. While some of GlobalResearch’s articles discuss legitimate humanitarian concerns, its view of science, economics, and geopolitics is conspiracist. The website under the domain names,, etc., is run by the non-profit The Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), which was founded by Michel Chossudovsky (1946–), a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Ottawa.

Fact Check is a nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by U.S. political players, including politicians, TV ads, debates, interviews and news releases. Their goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

As you can clearly see common rules of distinguishing if a site is a false information spreading site or not, do not apply to these pages. Some governments already started to implement laws or similar actions against misinformation. Also other scientist and artist startet to visualize this problem.

So last but not least the comparison. Both pages use he SSL certificate which means they should be “safe to use”. While always has their sources on the end of each article, only has sources to some articles and also these are called footnotes. Overall both sites do what they are supposed to do, but design related there are some differences. Global Research is really jam-full with articles. There is almost no space in-between the preview blocks and also the font is pretty small. Whereas Fact Check uses a lot more white space and also fonts and images are bigger. So in points of accessibility and readability Fact Check is the clear winner. The website of Global Research just feels like they need to give you all the information in one screen. To describe this phenomenon visually, it feels like some stranger is screaming to your face, but you actually do not understand a thing. The overall usability of both sites is good, but the Fact Check page has a clearer visual structure and a better design language. In terms of functionality everything works fine. Both websites more or less follow the common design principles, even though both sites could be better. During my research I experienced a lot of stuffed content websites and this mainly occurs on fake-news or hoax spreading sites, but unfortunately also some proper fact-checking sites have a really bad visual appearance. So that fact does not tear them apart.

ProPublica vs. InfoWars

Comparative Analysis of fake and proper Fact-Checking Sites #P4

This post will be a comparison of fake news pages with real fact-checking sites and how there are differences in their design language (Typography, Images, etc.), the content (Expertise, Rigour, Transparency, Reliability) and the overall usability. It’s hard to find similarities that apply to all the various fake news pages, but this post will try to show the most common ones. Therefore I decided to compare InfoWars with ProPublica and in the next post Global Research with Fact Check.

InfoWars vs. ProPublica

I chose those two pages because both of them are or seem to be news based, journalistic websites. The fist thing most of the users check is the domain. It could be weirdly long, maybe not include s SSL certificate or just plainly weird. In this case both websites seem to have normal looking domains ending with .org (ProPublica) and .com (InfoWars). When taking a closer look you will certainly notice a difference in the web design, advertisment placement and how the content is presented.

First of I want to talk about the adds. ProPublica is almost third party add free, but they ask for donations a lot, while InfoWars has gun industry related or other free-speech newsletter adds. Also, they try selling dietary supplements through Amazon despite being banned from other platforms. They also created their own online shop to sell their products and merchandise.

InfoWars Online Store

This might seem just to be because of audience they are clearly approaching: the right wing conservatives (InfoWars), whilst ProPublica tries do debunk hoaxes through thorough research.

Screen recording of InfoWars Landingpage

The design language of pages is clear and straight. InfoWars uses a sans-serif bold black font for their headlines and. In comparison to ProPublica, which use a serif bold black font for headlines, which is more likely to be associated with news papers and sans-serif for text, because of the readability.

Screen recording of ProPublica Landingpage

The overall usability of both sites is pretty good and clear. Everything works fine. Both websites follow the common design principles, except that the article design of ProPublica is much clearer and less busy than the one of InfoWars. In the following videos you can see the difference.

Screen recording of ProPublica Article
Screen recording of InfoWars Article

After spending some time on InfoWars it becomes clear that their main resource is social media (Screenshots of postings) or other false- and misinformation spreading websites or media channels. Most of the time there is no research behind the claimed statements, it is just plainly personal opinion sold as researched facts. There are no credible sources or the only source given is a book or a podcast of the site owner Alex Jones or some other far-right conspiracy theorists.

Comparative Analysis of fake and proper Fact-Checking Sites #P3

In the third blog entry of this series fake-news websites will be shown to be compared later on. After doing some research, I found a list of websites, who spread fake or misleading news on wikipedia. Most of them were already taken down by the authorities, but some of them still exist and others are just there to redirect you to another weird news or advertisement website. Here is an overview of some of those pages:

70 News.

The first thing I want to mention about these websites is that there is not only false or misleading information on there. Most of the stories published are true to some extent, but every once in a while you will find misleading content on there. 70 News, for example, published a false news story, stating that Donald Trump had won the popular vote in the 2016 United States presidential election; the fake story rose to the top in searches for “final election results” on Google News.

Before It’s News.

This site claims to be a people-powered news site, which published news way before the mainstream media does, but a lot of the content is misleading or completely bogus information. Before It’s News and InfoWars were described as “unabashedly unhinged ‘news’ sites” in 2014 by The Washington Post following its promotion of conspiracy theories relating to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.


So it does not take long to figure out what this site tries to achieve with the way they present their content. InfoWars is an American far-right, conspiracy theory and fake news website owned by Alex Jones. It was founded in 1999, and operates under Free Speech Systems LLC.


The picture shown above is also a real common way of hoax and false news spreaders (this time in germany). It is really hard to distinguish between the real and the fake news site. This is called mimicing, where they take a real trustworthy website and just recreate the design under another domain. Most of the time you will not get this site in a google result. To get there you enter another seemingly normal news site and get redirected to a certain domain. Here is a picture of the real website to make it more clear:

Daily Buzz Live.

This website is dedicated to bringing bizarre stories for the sole purpose of getting traffic to its website. They work with PopUps, as you can see in the picture and these kind of sites create mostly bogus stories and claims. To be fair, if you have some experience with the world wide wed, you will not take this website seriously.

Global Research.

Last but not least, this is the most dangerous form of false information websites, because it mimics other fact-checking sites and creates a common disbelieve in every website there is. Wikipedia states: “Principal website of the Centre for Research on Globalization, which The Economist in April 2017 called “a hub for conspiracy theories and fake stories,” and NATO information warfare specialists in November 2017 linked to a concerted effort to undermine the credibility of mainstream Western media.” Despite this information the website is still online and still spreading misleading content through the world wide web.

So these are just a few examples of what is actually out there and everyday I find something new. This is not a new phenomenon, as I already explained in a prior post, but it is a massively growing industry and it is just there to manipulate people. Next up is a comparison of these pages with real fact-checking sites and how there are differences in their design language, usability and so on.

If you want to know more false information spreading sites, here is a link to a list:

Comparative Analysis of fake and proper Fact-Checking Sites #P2

This blog entries will be about user experience. To achieve a qualitativ result, a survey about fact checking websites and their credibility, design and overall usability will be conducted later in the process.

First, questions need to be defined and certain fact-checking sites need to be evaluated. After doing some research and according to ISTE and LWF the following sites are some of the most used and trusted, especially for students and journalists:

Fact Check.

This nonpartisan, nonprofit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by U.S. political players, including politicians, TV ads, debates, interviews and news releases.

Media Matters.

This nonprofit and self-described liberal-leaning research center monitors and corrects conservative misinformation in the media.

Truth or Fiction.

This nonpartisan website where Internet users can quickly and easily get information about eRumors, fake news, disinformation, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email.

Open Secrets.

This nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit website run by the Center for Responsive Politics tracks how much and where candidates get their money.


This Pulitzer Prize winning website rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials. Run by editors and reporters from the independent newspaper Tampa Bay Times, Politicfact features the Truth-O-Meter, which was already mentioned in previous posts, that rates statements as “True,” “Mostly True,” “Half True,” “False,” and “Pants on Fire.”


This independent, nonprofit newsroom has won several Pulitzer Prizes, including the 2016 Prize for Explanatory Reporting. ProPublica produces investigative journalism in the public interest.


This independent, nonpartisan website run by professional researcher and writer David Mikkelson researches urban legends and other rumors. It is often the first to set the facts straight on wild fake news claims.

The Sunlight Foundation.

This nonpartisan, nonprofit organization uses public policy data-based journalism to make politics more transparent and accountable.

Washington Post Fact Checker.

Although the Washington Post has a left-center bias, its checks are excellent and sourced. The bias shows up because they fact check conservative claims more than liberal ones.

AP Fact Check.

AP Fact Check from one of Media Bias Fact Check’s least-biased sources, focuses on fact checking political claims and publishes. IFCN Signatory.

Lead Stories.

Lead Stories uses the Trendolizer to track story trends and debunk fake news before it becomes viral. They are often the first to debunk outrageous claims with “hoax alerts.” MBFC rates it as dead-center least biased and very high on factual reporting. IFCN signatory.

Media Bias/Fact Check.

Media Bias Fact Check (MBFC) is a fact-checking page, which relies strictly on signatories of the International Fact Checking Network (IFCN) when evaluating the political/factual bias of 3,100+ media sources (left, center-left, least biased, center-right, right, pro-science, conspiracy and pseudo-science, questionable sources, and satire). It includes the methodology used to classify each source. Sources rated very high or high on factual reporting have proper sourcing and a clean fact check record. 

Next step is to find Fake News Sites and then conduct a few interviews with participants following a schematic questionnaire about the previously described propper fact-checking sites and the in the next post listed hoax, misleading or false information spreading sites.

Comparative Analysis of fake and proper Fact-Checking Sites #P1

This is an introduction to fact-checking sites and a clear definition of false information streams.

From politicians to marketers, from advocacy groups to brands — everyone who seeks to convince others has an incentive to distort, exaggerate or obfuscate the facts. This is why fact-checking has grown in relevance and has spread around the world in the recent decade.

According to a paper by Alexios Mantzarlis “MODULE 5 – Fact-checking 101” the type of fact-checking happens not before something is published but after a claim becomes of public relevance. This form of “ex post” fact-checking seeks to make politicians and other public figures accountable for the truthfulness of their statements. Fact-checkers in this line of work seek primary and reputable sources that can confirm or negate claims made to the public.

Alexios Mantzarlis also wrote about two moments, which were particularly significant to the growth of this journalistic practice. A first wave was kick-started by the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, assigned to PolitiFact, a fact-checking project launched just over a year earlier by the St Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) in Florida. PolitiFact’s innovation was to rate claims on a “Truth-O-Meter”, adding a layer of structure and clarity to the fact checks.

Truth-O-Meter by PolitiFact

The second wave of fact-checking projects emerged following the global surge in so-called ‘fake news’. The term, now co-opted and misused, describes entirely fabricated sensationalist stories that reach enormous audiences by using social media algorithms to their advantage.

Vote Early False Information

This second wave often concentrated as much on fact-checking public claims as debunking these viral hoaxes. Debunking is a subset of fact-checking and requires a specific set of skills that are in common with verification.

The difference between Fact-checking and Verification

In part two an analysis and comparison of cloaked websites, which are sites published by individuals or groups who conceal authorship in order to
disguise deliberately a hidden political agenda, and fact-checking sites will be done. Therefore the websites will be compared on the basis of the following factors:

  1. User Experience (Survey about fact checking websites credibility)
  2. Design Differences (Typography, Images, etc.)
  3. Content (Expertise, Rigour, Transparency, Reliability)
  4. Overall Usability

Fact Checking Sites

As mentioned in recent posts there are multiple reasons for the rise and existence of false or misleading information in the digital age. Some of them occur because of a data void, but there are also other reasons like the so-called filter bubbles, where an algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see based on information about the user, such as location, past click-behavior and search history. This term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser in 2010 and also discussed in his 2011 book of the same name. As a result, users get isolated from information that might differ from their own opinion. This leads to less discourse of information and again might be harmful for our civic discourse.

The extrem negativ effects a filter bubble can have is shown in the following video THE MISEDUCATION OF DYLANN ROOF (Trigger warning: Violence, Racism and racial slurs, Hateful language directed at religious groups).

Here is a short video of things to look for when you are uncertain or just want to know what to look for when surfing the world wide web:

Spotting Bogus Claims

Despite the things to look for mentioned in the video, sometimes that is not enough. If you watched the video about the miseducation of dylann roof, you will clearly realize that websites which spread false information or hate speech are sometimes designed in a similar way to other reliable news pages, which can make it difficult for not savvy users to identify propaganda and misinformation.

Since 2010 a lot of fact checking sites appeared. Most of them rely on the same principle. They use donations to do their work and they write articles about current rumors.

Fact checking sites like or the The Washingtion Post Fact Checker like to comment on mostly false information spread by politicians and such. However, they do not show or label content compared to the social media platforms, on which false information is spread throughout the platforms and also shared to other social interaction platforms. You will find statistics about that here.

Other sites like PolitiFact show statements and their truthfulness in form of an “Truth-O-Meter”. In my personal opinion the design of the quotes and the “Truth-O-Meter” does not look really sophisticated and believable. In the next post I want to do a survey about the credibility of these sites and their designs.


Another fact checking organization or institute is IFCN. This website is really transparent and well designed. Its function is described as follows: “The code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter is a series of commitments organizations abide by to promote excellence in fact-checking. We believe nonpartisan and transparent fact-checking can be a powerful instrument of accountability journalism.”

They use a clear and consistent design language, like corporate colors and fonts. The International Fact-Checking Network is a unit of the Poynter Institute dedicated to bringing together fact-checkers worldwide. Also they use a corporate badge to verify organizations, which looks like this:

IFCN Badge

Around 100 fact checking or news organizations all over the world use this service or way of validating, even tough it is not an easy application process. Next to other reasons why implementing such a verification is important, the good design is clearly making the site more sophisticated.

Some Fact Checking Sites and Organizations:

Next up: Survey about fact checking websites credibility, Systems/Icons to label content, Which labels do we need?

Data Voids

“Data voids are a security vulnerability that must be systematically, intentionally, and thoughtfully managed.”

When talking about data voids, people often forget that there are different kind of information and most importantly the process of getting information. Search engines, for example, use another strategy compared to social media platforms. Search engines like Google or similar have lots and lots of data, but people’s approaches to search engines typically begin with a query or question in an effort to seek new information. However, not all search queries are equal. So, if you’re searching for a term like “ironing”, you’ll most certainly get some adds and some organically produced output (SEO), but nothing about “extrem ironing” (although it is quite fun to look at these pictures). In comparison to that social media, where users primarily consume an algorithmically curated feed of information. When there is not enough, too little or no data at all about a certain topic it is called a data void. When search engines have little natural content to return for a particular query, they are more likely to return low quality and problematic content. As already mentioned before, bad or low quality content ist harmful to our society.

According to there are five types of data voids in play:

  • Breaking News: The production of problematic content can be optimized to terms that are suddenly spiking due to a breaking news situation; these voids will eventually be filled by legitimate news content, but are abused before such content exists.
  • Strategic New Terms: Manipulators create new terms and build a strategically optimized information ecosystem around them before amplifying those terms into the mainstream, often through news media, in order to introduce newcomers to problematic content and frames.
  • Outdated Terms: When terms go out of date, content creators stop producing content associated with these terms long before searchers stop seeking out content. This creates an opening for manipulators to produce content that exploits search engines’ dependence on freshness.
  • Fragmented Concepts: By breaking connections between related ideas, and creating distinct clusters of information that refer to different political frames, manipulators can segment searchers into different information worlds.
  • Problematic Queries: Search results for disturbing or fraught terms that have historically returned problematic results continue to do so, unless high quality content is introduced to contextualize or outrank such problematic content.

So how can we fill these voids with qualitativ data?

The biggest problem with these newly occurring data voids is the enormous speed in which they are spread and some of them are spread through apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. So the main problem is how can we know if there is a data void in development. In the following video it is explained why fast response to search engines most searched questions with fact checking is so important.

At the end of this research post the most important question for me is how can we filter and label all of this content properly and fast enough to not let these kinds of data voids arise.

Image for post
Harms framework to explore the risks posed by data voids

One and in my personal opinion the most promising solution could be a browser based plugin which would have to be operated by an independent platform fo experts. This platform must have its own funding so that there can be no rumors of corruption, propaganda and so on. This means it could be like an individually paid virus detection software, but for detecting false information, filtering and labelling it and also filling data voids as soon as they arise.