Research projects

The Global Politics of Internet Freedom

This collaborative project with Tetyana Lokot (Dublin City University) analyses how four groups of actors – the tech and academic community, non-profit advocacy organisations, states and corporations – have influenced how we conceptualise internet freedom and the real-world consequences of their ideas.

Towards Sustainable Journalism for the Algorithmic Future

This project, funded by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (2020-2022), examines the adoption of digital technologies in Russian news media and the role of Russian ‘big tech’ (Yandex) in shaping the Russian information space. Building upon over fifty interviews and complementary methods, the project demonstrates, e.g., how questions of data access, data reliability, societal impact and repercussions condition how data journalism is practiced under authoritarian conditions. It also uncovers how journalistic practices in Russia are changing in a way that negatively impacts press freedom as media negotiate their visibility on online platforms (e.g., news aggregators).

Selling Censorship: Affective Framing and the Legitimation of Internet Control in Russia

In today’s hyperconnected world, states are confronted with the global challenge of responding to potentially disruptive online communications, such as terrorist propaganda and fake news. In Russia, these threats have been instrumentalized to legitimate a dramatic decline in internet freedom. Scholars have investigated the curtailment of internet freedom in contemporary Russia, drawing attention to its infrastructural, economic, regulatory and foreign policy aspects. But how does the Russian government legitimate and cultivate popular support for these policies? This research project studied how the internet and its regulation are framed in political and media discourses. It asked what role the mobilisation of affect plays in legitimating censorship and surveillance. Employing a mixed methods, case-study approach, it analysed how affective frames are produced by policymakers, how they are translated and disseminated in state and (semi-) independent media, and how they resonate in social media and online debates.

Wijermars, M. (2021). Selling internet control: the framing of the Russian ban of messaging app TelegramInformation, Communication & Society, 1-17.

Wijermars, M. (2021). Russia’s law ‘On news aggregators’: Control the news feed, control the news? Journalism, 22(12), 2938–2954.