Platform Governance Archives[Bearbeiten]
The rules established by social media platforms to govern the behaviour of their end users are amongst the most important private policies in the world. Presented in both formalized documents such as “community standards” and in e.g. “Help” pages, they play an important role in the definition of what kind of speech is acceptable for billions of people globally and help explain how large-scale datafication processes unfold. Expectedly, these rules have become focal points of public controversy. One example is the recent campaign (“Stop Hate for Profit”) against Facebook’s reluctance to ban certain extremist discourses.
Yet, currently, there is no simple way to either access these policies in a comprehensive manner or to read the older versions they might have had. Usually, platforms’ rules are fragmented into multiple pages, and only rarely these pages contain a changelog. No major platform has a search engine to explore the various versions of their policies, much less tools to easily visualise the evolution of a policy or of a certain topic over time.
To tackle this problem, I would like to work toward the development of a website that makes easily accessible to anyone all archived versions of all end user policies of some key social media platforms. This space would be called Platform Governance Archives – or simply PGA. The PGA would build on an existing private database of over 1,000 PDFs of webpages containing platforms’ policies. This database has been constructed since February 2020 using, mainly, WayBack Machine, as part of an EU-funded research project developed at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. This database covers policies of five major user-generated digital platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud) and five relevant “alternative” platforms (Diaspora, Mastodon, DTube, Pixelfed and Audius), published since 2006.
The PGA website would have two fully integrated facets:
First, the PGA would work as a data repository, from where anyone would be able to search and download current and older versions of the policies of those 10 platforms, as both PDF and Markdown files.
Second, the PGA would offer an interactive visualization tool which would allow anyone to read all current policies of a given platform, and/or all excerpts of current policies regarding a particular topic (e.g. hate speech) on a single page; and visualize how policies or selected topics changed over time, either within a given platform or across platforms. These visualizations may take the form of e.g. various sorts of timelines and visual comparisons of any two versions of a given policy of a certain platform.
The overall goal of the PGA is to enhance public knowledge and discussion of social media platforms’ governance mechanisms so as facilitate a balanced accountability of these organizations.
This is a very timely and important project, which covers a variety of topics related to Open Science. Moreover, the applicant seems well qualified to ensure the implementation of the project during the fellowship. However, I found the budget calculations of the applicant very ambitious, i.e. I fear that he needs more funds than the fellowship offers.
Wenn es so einen "leichten" Zugang zu den Policies der Plattformen noch nicht gibt, ist dies definitiv ein dringend notwendiges Projekt! Die einzelnen Arbeitsschritte sind nachvollziehbar, das Endprodukt kann ich mir gut umgesetzt vorstellen. Ich hätte mir jedoch eine verständlichere Abgrenzung/Beschreibung der Einbettung dieses Vorhabens in die HIIG Arbeit bzw. der dort scheinbar bereit existierenden Plattform zu diesem Thema gewünscht. So wurde mir der zusätzliche Beitrag, der mithilfe des Fellowships möglich würde, nicht ganz klar.
- Name: João Carlos Magalhães
- Institution: Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft (HIIG)
- Kontakt: firstname.lastname@example.org