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Busted: The Truth About the 50 Most Common Internet Myths

Busted: The Truth About the 50 Most Common Internet Myths

Everybody is talking about the Internet. But don't we all move in filter bubbles and just read fake news? Are we going to let bots tell us what to think? Can data monopolies no longer be broken? And is the global South finally lost? No, no, no - and no. And yet "Internet myths", i.e. misconceptions about the impact and reality of the Internet and Internet-based communication, are very popular.
However, there is a great deal of Internet research expertise and solid empirical research in Germany and around the world that could clear up the myths. A book is intended to remedy this situation by providing fact-based, descriptive and practical information. It is edited by Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann and Dr. Stephan Dreyer and financed by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
In a first step, the most common Internet myths will be collected by 21 May 2019. If you would like to participate and perhaps contribute your expertise to the book, you will find an invitation (pdf) and a link to a form here. Out of the 100 suggestions collected, 50 myths will then be selected.

Photo by Geniene Powell on Unsplash
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Project Description

Written in German and English, it can be used within the framework of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as an effective tool for communicating real Internet knowledge beyond target groups. As a creative and valuable giveaway within the framework of the IGF, it provides a solid basis for discussion and intervenes in processes of disinformation. On the organisers' side, it can be made usable in multimedia form (online, print) in order to effectively refute important myths relating to the three central themes of the IGF.
The 'Internet Myth Book' also contributes to contouring the important role of Germany and Berlin as places of production, systematisation and differentiation, networking and mediation of Internet research on a global level.
With this book, the organisers of IGF 2019 in Berlin can set an important milestone towards a fact-based discourse on the true challenges of the future of the Internet.

Structure of the Book

Table of Contents, List of Abbreviations
Forewords / Introduction by the Editors
50 contributions, whereby the three topics of the IGF, supplemented by the area "Rights and Rules", serve as structuring chapters for the book:
  •     Rights and Rules: Standards and Normative Expectations That Structure and Justify Our Online Activities
  •     Inclusion: Issues of Access and Equal Participation in Digitisation and Its Participatory Design
  •     Data Governance: The Technical, Legal and Organisational Aspects of Data Handling and Exchange
  •     Security and Safety: Data Protection, Data Security and Human, Resource and Infrastructure Protection Issues in the Digital Age


Experienced authors present a myth (e.g.: "There is no law on the Internet", "We have long since lost sovereignty over our data", "The Global South is forever digitally dependent", "We all live in filter bubbles"), show which empirical studies refute this (with reference to a primary source that is, if possible, open source) and describe how the situation really presents itself.
The amount per contribution is limited to approx. 1 DIN A4 page (450 words), so that even with a smaller print format (e.g. square based on DIN A6), manageability is retained. The editors will ensure that the contributions are entertaining and low-threshold, clear and concise.
The structure is the same for each contribution:
  1.     Myth in 50 words with example article/quotation
  2.     Resolution in approx. 350 words with reference to an (ideally) open source (peer-reviewed analysis; assessment)
  3.     Conclusion in 50 words - what better way should it be called?


The Leibniz Institute for Media Research, where the editors work, is an integrated partner of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. This is the founding institute of the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers (NoC), a global network of Internet research centers. In addition to discussions with networks of the German research community, the editors will, as a first step, contact the researchers of this network and ask for suggestions for Internet myths.
These are then collected in an online database and in a next step prioritised and finally selected using online tools. Already this process creates a certain "buzz". In all phases, particular attention will be paid to the presence of researchers from non-European centres, such as South America, Africa, the Arab world and Asia, in order to ensure global relevance of the myths and representative authors, using the same criteria as those relevant to IGF panel proposals.

Project Information


Duration: 2019-2019

Research programme:
RP2 - Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Digital Communication

Third party

Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie

Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard)
Senior Researcher "Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces"

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard)

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

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