Accepted Paper:

Social media governance, controversies and democratic possibilities  


Chiara Poletti (Cardiff University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on Science and Technology and Actor-Network Theory perspective, this study proposes to investigate the democratic potential and limitations within the governance system emerging from the controversy around Social Media platforms regulation and freedom of speech.

Paper long abstract:

The usage and structure of Social Media (SM) platforms have become a controversial global policy issue. In the last years, newspapers and political institutions have associated SM platforms to hateful and abusive speech, fake news, extremism, and terrorism. Contents published on platforms have been increasingly subject to regulation, with deep implications for free expression and other human rights. In the lack of an established governance system clarifying roles and responsibilities, the order arising will translate the vision of those actors successfully assembling and engaging the others in their interpretation of reality. Such openness represents a very interesting opportunity for new and emerging form of democracy. Governance can be seen as the emerging co-production of the associations of different heterogeneous elements like governments and private companies, but also Internet users and civil society, mobilised globally around a common matter of concern. At the same time, the actors involved in the issue have different agendas and perform different interpretations of threats and freedoms on Social Media platforms. It is thus of crucial importance to understand whose voices are reproduced in this system, and whose voices are silenced, contributing to reinforce inequalities. In particular, this paper underlines the role of code, algorithms, regulations, in imposing a certain interpretation of democracy and human rights.

Panel E09
Experiments in democracy