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Governing the Platform Society

Globalisation
Governance
Public Policy
Regulation
Internet
Technology
P159
Robert Gorwa
University of Oxford
Thorsten Thiel
WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Tuesday 11:15 - 13:00 (25/08/2020)


Abstract

In today’s ‘platform society’ (Van Dijck et al. 2019), platforms for user-generated content like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube put a wealth of social, cultural, and political information at the fingertips of billions of people around the world. However, in the past few years, much public attention has been devoted to the possible negative externalities posed by these platforms, ranging from the proliferation of speech that spreads hate and incites violence to disinformaton and interference in electoral processes, leading to a growing number of policy instruments being discussed and deployed to curb various ‘online harms.’ The emerging transnational digital policy issues of intermediary liability, platform regulation, data protection, and competition are slowly being recognized as important topics for political scientists, given the intimate connection they have with the rights, freedoms, and behavior of ordinary citizens. However, our understanding of the politics of platforms --- the multiple, overlapping layers of governance relationships structuring interactions between key parties in today’s platform society (Gorwa 2019) --- remains seriously limited, and has been largely driven by communications and digital media scholars, despite the clear added value that could be provided by scholars within various subfields of political science.    This panel intends to critically situate the current European policy conversation on platform regulation within the broader tradition of interdisciplinary political science scholarship on governing firms and digital transformations. We focus on empirical research that looks at how the rules of platform governance are made today --- both for, and by private actors --- from a variety of qualitative and quantitative approaches, including comparative regulatory analysis and ethnographic policy observation. Our panel aims to present a snapshot of the current (interdisciplinary) state of the field, with the discussion highlighting prospective future contributions from political economy, comparative politics, democratic theory, and other branches of political research.

Title Details
On Whose Authority? An Empirical Analysis of Platform Regulation in Europe View Paper Details
From E-Commerce to Digital Services: An Analysis of The New Rules for Platforms in the EU View Paper Details
From Platform Governance to Platformed Cities: Corporate-State Entanglements in Europe View Paper Details
Governing Communications Between 2,7 Billion Users: A Pilot Study of How Facebook Sets and Legitimizes its Content Moderation Rules View Paper Details