On Wednesday the 14th of April, the Symposium Committee will host Study Association Flow’s annual symposium! This year’s theme is “Conspiracy theories: are we living inside a filter bubble?” During the symposium, speakers will discuss whether we should be worried about filter bubbles & conspiracy theories, and whether algorithms can break the filter bubble. This year, the symposium will be fully livestreamed so everyone can attend. The symposium starts at 15:00h and will last until approximately 18:00h.
Piia Varis is an associate professor at the Department of Culture Studies, Tilburg University. Her research focuses on digital culture and communication, most recently on conspiracy theories online.
During the symposium, she will give a short introduction, welcome all the speakers and lead the panel discussion. In her introduction, she will address how we have gotten here – how did filter bubbles and conspiracy theories result in worries amongst a lot of people? And what do memes in particular as a type of conspiracy theory content tell us about our present-day media and political environment?
Jelle van Buuren works as a lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs at Leiden University.
In 2016, he received his PhD on a study of conspiracy theories and systemic hatred. In addition to research on conspiracy theories, political legitimacy, and social discontent, his expertise lies in the broad area of radicalization, extremism and terrorism and how politics, governance and society respond to them. At the symposium, he will discuss what conspiracy theory exactly is and the extent to which they promote systemic hatred. In addition, he will talk about whether conspiracy theories are a real danger to our safety.
Damian Trilling is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Amsterdam. He is part of the Political Communication and Journalism program group and is co-director of the initiative Communication in the Digital Society. He is also one of the co-founders of the Computational Communication Science Amsterdam Lab.
His research mainly revolves around how news spreads in the contemporary media landscape and in what ways people follow the news. In particular, he is interested in self-reinforcing processes, such as the question to what extent attention to topics or frames can lead to even more attention and vice versa, and what role both users and algorithms play in this. During the symposium, he will discuss whether we in the Netherlands need to worry about filter bubbles, and what concerns filter bubbles currently have. He will also explain the differences between filter bubbles and echo chambers, two terms that are often used interchangeably.
Dr. Cynthia Liem is an Assistant Professor in the Multimedia Computing Group of Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, and pianist of the Magma Duo. Her research interests consider search and recommendation for music and multimedia, with special interest in making people discover new interests, as well as questions of interpretability and validity.
From 2021-2026, she is a member of De Jonge Akademie. In her talk, she will focus on her interests in digitally supported perspective-broadening. She will discuss how the challenge of discovering unknown content is highly non-trivial, requiring insight into both algorithmic and human factors, as well as interdisciplinary systems perspectives. You can already learn more about this in the following video from the University of the Netherlands: