Hossein Kermani, PhD

MSCA Postdoctoral Researcher 

Main Research Areas and Interests 

  • Social media activism
  • Computational propaganda
  • Digital and computational methods
  • Critical discourse studies on social media

Hossein Kermani is a MSCA post-doctoral researcher at the Political Communication Research Group of the University of Vienna. Hossein is studying social media, digital repression, computational propaganda and political activism in restrictive contexts, with particular attention to Iran. His research mainly revolves around a) the discursive power of social media in changing the microphysics of power and playing with the political and social structures, and b) the strategies that have been employed to manipulate and dismantle social media activism in non-democratic societies. In order to do so, Hossein is chiefly combining social and communication theories with computational techniques, in particular Social Network Analysis (SNA), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and critical discourse analysis.

Hossein has recently published in, among others, New Media and Society, Big Data & Society, Information, Communication, and Society and Asian Journal of Communication. His first book, social media research in Iran (in Farsi), was published in 2020. He is now working on his first English book, Twitter activism in Iran, which Palgrave Macmillan will publish in 2024.

Hossein welcomes interested students to work with him on their Master’s thesis or Ph.D. dissertations.


Curriculum Vitae

Kolingasse 14, 1090 Wien
Zi. 6.22
eMail: hossein.kermani@univie.ac.at
T: +43-1-4277-483 12

Recent Publications


  • Kermani, H. (2021). Wandering island: The studies of Iranian users on social media, Tehran: Logos Publication.Kermani, Hossein (Under publication). Twitter, politics and power in Iran. Tehran: Mehr-o-Mah publication.
  • Kermani, H. (Under publication). Computational social science; Approaches, tools, and methods. Tehran: Institute of cultural and social studies.

Book chapters

  • Kermani, H. & Faust, M. (2021). Living with Instalive in Iran: Social Media Use in Authoritarian Countries during the Pandemic. In Stefania Milan, Emiliano Treré and Silvia Masiero (Eds), COVID-19 from the Margins: Pandemic Invisibilities, Policies and Resistance in the Datafied Society. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, University of Amsterdam.
  • Eloranta, J., Kermani, H., & Rahimi, B. (2016). Facebook Iran: Social capital and the Iranian social media. In Faris, M., & Rahimi, B. (Eds), Social media in Iran: Politics and society after 2009 (pp. 19-39). New York: State University of New York Press.

Peer-Reviewed Articles [selected]

Selected Presentations

  • Kermani, H. (2023). Manipulating #MahsaAmini: how the Iranian regime used computational propaganda to suppress a movement on Twitter, 3rd TSHD Digital Humanities Symposium, 15-16 June 2023, Netherlands, Tilburg University.
  • Kermani, H. (2023). Computational propaganda, #MahsaAmini, and Twitter activism in Iran, Milton Wolf Seminar, Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, April 14, 2023.
  • Kermani, H. (2023). Discursive activism by bots and humans during the pandemic on Twitter. Complexity Science Hub: Vienna, February 23, 2023 (invited talk).
  • Kermani, Hossein (2023) Still Twitter? An investigation of social media activism and its manipulations in authoritarian countries. Swiss political science association (SPSA) annual congress. 2-3 February 2023. Switzerland: Basel.
  • Kermani, Hossein; Bayat makou, Alireza; Karami, Behnam; Behzadian Nejad, Reza; and Ataee, Homa, Rasouli, Fatemeh, and Pakzad, Romina (2022) Social Media Agenda Setting on COVID-19: Evidence from Iran, WAPOR 75th and WAPOR Asia Pacific 5th Annual Conference, 10-15 November 2022, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  • Kermani, Hossein; Bayat makou, Alireza; Karami, Behnam; Behzadian Nejad, Reza; and Ataee, Homa (2022) SOCIAL MEDIA AGENDA SETTING IN AUTHORITARIAN COUNTRIES: THE CASE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN IRAN, 2022 Association of Internet Researchers Conference, Ireland: Dublin. 2-5 November 2022.
  • Kermani, H. (2022) Not a challenge anymore: An investigation of non-democratic regimes’ tactics in turning Twitter into a non-threatening platform, Democracy & Digital Citizenship Conference, Roskilde University, Denmark, 29-30 September 2022.
  • Kermani, H. (2022) Authoritarian regimes and defusing Twitter threat: the case of transforming Iranian Twittersphere to a less challenging space, Eighth Conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics, Loughborough University: England, 21-23 September 2022.
  • Kermani, H. (2022) Mapping Iranian Twittersphere during the pandemic; an analysis of networks and frames of Covid-19 in authoritarian countries, 16th ECPR General Conference, Innsbruck: Austria. 22-26 August 2022.
  • Kermani, H. (2022) Coronavirus in hybrid contexts: a rhetorical analysis of Hassan Rouhani’s speeches during the pandemic, Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines (CADAAD), Bergamo, Italy. 8 July 2022.
  • Kermani, H. (2022) Protesting Is Not Everything; Analyzing Twitter Use During Electoral Events in Non-Democratic Contexts, ICA 2022 (Political communication division), France: Paris. 30 May 2022.
    Kermani, H. (2022) An Integrated Approach to Frame Identification: Combining Automated and Qualitative Methods in an Inductive-Deductive Process, ICA 2022 (Computational methods division), France: Paris. 30 May 2022.
  • Kermani, Hossein and Hooman, Niloofar (2021). How a connective action is disrupted in restrictive contexts? The case of dismantling #rape on Persian Twitter. Paper presented at AoIR 2021: The 22nd Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Virtual Event: AoIR. Retrieved from spir.aoir.org.
  • Kermani, Hossein (2021) Using computational and qualitative methods to analyze Covid-19 frames on Iranian Twittersphere, 2021 Conference of the German Communication Association's Methods Division, (virtual event), September 30-October 1, 2021. 
  • Kermani, Hossein (2020) Social media narratives and democracy in Iran: An analysis of Iranian Twitter users’ narrativity practices during Iran’s 2017 presidential election, ESA-ECPR Midterm Social Movement Conference. Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu: Estonia. 7-9 October 2020. 
  • Kermani, Hossein (2018) Habermas on Telegram; Can a micro public sphere be shaped in the age of social media? Presented at 3rc Asiascape: Digital Asia conference (DIAS), Netherlands: Leiden University. 29 May, 2018.