Anja Bechmann (she/her) is professor at Media Studies and director of the interdisciplinary research center DATALAB - Center for Digital Social Research at Aarhus University in Denmark. Her research examines digital and social media communication and collective behavior using large-scale data collection and applied machine learning. She is PI of the Independent Research Fund Denmark project "Social Media Influence: A large-scale study of social media as as infrastructures for influence on national populations with a focus on false information" and former Chief Investigator (CI) of the EU project NORDIS and executive board member of the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO). She is appointed member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters and of the Academy of Technical Sciences. She has been a member of the EU Commission High-level expert group on disinformation and is continously invited as an independent academic to provide research-based talks, white papers or comments on drafts by e.g., European Parliament, Ministry of Defense, and Ministry of Culture. In 2019 she was appointed Thinker in Residence by the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. Her research has been funded by national and international research councils such as the Danish Council for Independent Research, Swedish Research Council, Danish Agency for Science and Innovation, Horizon 2020, EU CEF, and Aarhus University Research Foundation.
She supervises within the broader research area of communication and collective behavior in algorithmic spaces with a special focus on big tech platforms and behavior that challenge democratic ideals; methodologically she is mainly using computational social science and applied machine learning in combination with API, data donation, ethnographic and survey methods reconfigured to the object of study.
Disclosure of financial ties to the industry:
In 2024 Bechmann has not herself received project funding from tech industries but has received a data grant from Social Science One in 2022 providing access to carry out analysis on Facebook data from EU and US. Furthermore, Facebook invited and funded her participation expenses in Social Science Foo Camp 2017, an Information meeting in Berlin about their upcoming oversight board and about their research data access solution in Amsterdam and Paris. EDMO was offered 25 mio euro by Google when Bechmann was executive board member for research but kindly declined the generous offer due to the need for independent scrutiny of tech industry players. Instead Bechmann along with other EDMO executive and advisory board members helped craft an independent foundation (European Information and Media Fund - EMIF) where other researchers and journalists alike can apply for project funding. Bechmann has previously been an independent board member of Jyllands-Postens Foundation, Jyllands-Postens Holding, Nordjyske Holding, and Aalborg Stiftstidendes Foundation.