How could "platform councils" or other institutions for integrating public interests into platform rule-making processes ensure that public interests and democratic values are taken into account? A new project is embarking on a search for global best practice models.
What about our participation in communication-related decisions on digital platforms today, where significant parts of our public discourse has been shifted? Tried and tested democratic principles cannot easily be translated to allow user participation in the design of private selection algorithms and moderation practices. The platforms themselves have become rule-makers, rule enforcers and judges of their decisions. Separation of powers looks different.
In this project, we are trying to find out how the rules of discourse on platforms can be aligned with public values. Are forms like platform councils suitable for this?
By analysing and synthesising the institutional frameworks of successful societal responses to hybrid governance regimes, the project aims to identify how platform councils can be used as a means to achieve this. We will do this through a global review of best practice models of integrating public interests back into private (and public) regimes, such as those that exist or have existed in different countries in the field of public broadcasting or the protection of minors.
In four regional research clinics in Asia/Australia, the Americas, Africa and Europe, the possibility spaces of institutionalised societal feedback mechanisms of private exercise of power will be researched in an interdisciplinary way and evaluated normatively. Participants will draw on their individual backgrounds and institutional experiences to develop proposals for democratising online communication spaces and making their rules and practices more socially sustainable. In a high-profile final event, we will review and compare regional best practices and summarise the results of the project in a synthesis paper.
- Europe Research Clinic (coordinator: Prof. Matthias C. Kettemann, HBI)
- Asia Research Clinic (coordinator: Setu Upadhyay, HIIG)
- Africa Research Clinic (coordinator: Anriette Esterhuysen, Association for Progressive Communication)
- Americas Research Clinic (coordinator: Dr. Heidi Tworek, University of British Columbia)
Photo by Conny Schneider