Platforms’ Governance: Analyzing Digital Platforms’ Policy Preferences

Pawel Popiel, Yoonmo Sang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Growing political distrust in digital platforms has galvanized policy debates about how to best address issues associated with their market power and ad-run business models—including the proliferation of misinformation, privacy threats, and electoral interference. The range of proposed solutions includes growing calls for public-private policy regimes, such as co-regulation. Such proposals envision a role for digital platforms in addressing platform-related problems, whose contours need to be defined. In this article, we examine how platform companies attempt to influence these debates and define this role, focusing on the biggest U.S. digital platform companies: Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. We conduct a content analysis of a sample of 2019 public policy blogs, statements, and testimonies by key personnel at these companies to gain insight into (a) the policy issues they engage, (b) the policy preferences they communicate, and (c) what these communications reveal about their regulatory philosophies and visions of platform governance. The findings shed light on the politics underlying the debates over platform governance and provide insight into what co-regulatory approaches might look like in practice. We call these policy paradigms “frictionless regulation”: light and narrow regulatory oversight confined to baseline standard-setting, receptive to the private sector’s ongoing feedback, and prioritizing fast responsiveness to market needs over the slow and deliberative responsiveness to the public that is typical of democratic governance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19094
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalGlobal Perspectives
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2021

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