How can platform councils ensure that public interests and democratic values are taken into account when setting and implementing private platform rules? An inquiry into the meaning and limits of democracy online.

Who says what we can say online? Can we participate in the decisions on what can be said and what can’t be said in private communication spaces? Who decides on the rules and practices of digital platforms now that societal processes of self-determination are happening to a large part in these private spaces? Democratic principles cannot easily be translated to allow user participation in the design of recommender algorithms and moderation practices.

Funded by Stiftung Mercator, the project aims to find out how the rules of discourse on platforms can be aligned with public values. Are forums such as platform councils suitable for this purpose?

In this project, we will analyze and synthesize the institutional frameworks of successful societal responses to hybrid governance regimes. This will be done through a global review of best practice models of integrating public interests back into private (and public) regimes, such as those that have existed in different countries and in varying degrees, for example, in the field of public broadcasting or the protection of minors.

Possible spaces of institutionalized social feedback mechanisms for private power will be examined in an interdisciplinary manner and evaluated normatively by organizing four regional research clinics in Asia/Australia, the Americas, Africa and Europe.

A final high-profile event will undertake a comparative review of regional best practices; a synthesis paper will summarize the project findings. A panel discussion on the project will take place on Tuesday, 7 June, 18.00. It will be streamed live.