Call for Submissions: Platform Governance Terminologies — Yale ISP/WIII Essay Series

Platform Governance refers to the policy, technical, and design decisions impacting a global network of internet users. However, there is presently no single source bringing together the diverse perspectives on the terminology used in Platform Governance. Terms like 'misinformation', 'online harassment', and 'terrorist content' are difficult to define and regulate. Words like 'engagement' and 'amplification' serve as euphemisms for features that have had a significant impact on democracy and human rights. Labels such as 'inauthentic behavior' and 'hate speech' embody divergent sets of values and heuristics around the world.

Part of the problem is that Platform Governance consists of laws from around the world, but also that policies from a handful of large tech companies are being applied in vastly different contexts.  Since a lot of work on law and policy terminology is being done in the US and EU, it is tempting to apply the same categories around the world in contexts where they may not be warranted. There are many different stakeholders involved in shaping these terms, such as governments, companies, courts, civil society, and academics, but often not in coherence. The terms constituting Platform Governance engage with power dynamics and cultural interpretations to create and perpetuate certain technical, political, and legal approaches. This is why a shared understanding is needed to connect the diverse understandings of Platform Governance. More specifically, we need to ask questions such as what these terms mean, how they are understood and applied in different contexts and cultures, and what the challenges are to developing shared governance strategies— both at the local and global levels. The ways in which stakeholders understand these terms has consequences on real world regulation and non-regulation.

The Yale Information Society Project/Wikimedia Initiative on Intermediaries and Information invite short essays (~3000 words) on the meanings, complexities, and critiques of the terms constituting Platform Governance. These essays will be compiled for the series on “Platform Governance Terminologies” which will become a central repository of phrases and terms shaping how online platforms are governed around the world. This essay series aims to provide academics, civil society, and platforms a forum to learn about and discuss the challenges to defining and understanding platform governance, to confront core assumptions about the scope of these policies, and to propose ways to align diverse approaches to key terms. Through this essay series, we hope to uncover a wider breadth of practices and perspectives on platform governance terminologies.

Please fill out this form with a 500-word proposal by November 5, 2021. If selected, you will be asked to contribute an essay (~3000 words) for the series. We will be offering a $500 honorarium to the selected contributors. Additionally, all selected contributors will receive feedback and editorial support prior to publication. 

For more information, please contact