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Lowlands Science 2021!

Have you ever been curious about what kind of digital footprints your online media use leaves behind, but had no means to acquire this cryptic information? Have you ever wondered what type of information digital conglomerates like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp know about you based on your searches, likes, and messages? Look no further. This summer the Digital Footprints Lab* will unveil some interesting, but so far hidden patterns of your browsing, viewing and messaging history at Lowlands festival.

That’s right, as part of a *joint project between The University of Amsterdam (UvA) and The Free University (VU), the NEWSFLOWS team will head to Lowlands festival this summer between 20 and 22 August to disentangle festival-goers’ digital footprints.

Why are data donation studies so important?

While social media conglomerates have a lot of insights about us based on our online behavior, researchers have very little access to this type of data. However, without having insights into how people search for, consume, and disseminate news in the high-choice digital media environment, scholars are unable to disentangle whether, if at all, we are living in our own filter bubbles, and to what extent the interplay between manual news sharing and algorithmic news recommendations potentially influence the public’s decisions and society at large. Can we speak of an increased polarization as a result of our online media consumption, or is the picture more nuanced?

Using novel research methods that build on data donations, we hope to answer some of the most fundamental questions of our times. The current project will also provide us with valuable insights on the feasibility of conducting data donation studies in the field, as well as much-needed input on people’s willingness to donate their data to science.

How are we going to do this?

Our extended team is currently developing a web application that will enable festival-goers to get some cool visual insights and stats about their media use and donate their data to us if they wish to. The only thing participants will need to do is use their phones to obtain their (social) media takeouts and log onto our web application while one of our team members will guide them through the process, and answer any questions they may have.

Curious about our project?

If you have a few minutes to spare in-between concerts, you can find us under the moniker Prik je eigen bubbel door! ‘ at Lowlands festival between 20 and 22 August every day. The only thing you need to bring is a curious mind and your smartphone.

We can’t wait to introduce you to your digital footprint!

We will be back soon with a detailed report about our experiences with the data donation project!