The Justice Collaboratory’s Social Media Governance Initiative (SMGI) aims to shape and lead a concerted pro-social movement for social media platforms. We want to encourage online decision makers to promote cooperation and enable communities to advocate for social norms and moral values that advance civil and civic society. Such actions can enhance trust in and legitimacy of decision makers and help promote better governance.1
A few platforms already are taking steps toward pro-social action. For example, Nextdoor has a “community vitality” project to support civil discourse and help build meaningful connections. Recently, during the coronavirus crisis Twitter decided to disable its auto-suggest results about the issue so that people do not receive or share potentially misleading information. Despite the potentially positive effects of such initiatives, taking pro-social actions is low on the list of solutions for governing people’s behavior on the Internet. Platforms continue to resort to suspending, blocking, deleting and eliminating users from their platforms as the main mechanisms for regulation. Punitive measures are inadequate to fight terrorism, disinformation, harassment and other issues. We should foster pro-social behavior so that we can keep a global, pluralistic Internet together.
To help the social media world foster pro-social behavior, SMGI will provide research-based evidence for social media platforms and self-regulating online communities. We want to discover the problems platforms and online users and communities are struggling with and evaluate the effect of various pro-social initiatives on these platforms using theory and empirical research.
We plan to report periodically about pro-social initiatives taken by online communities and social media platforms that shape the pro-social landscape. The landscape can give us insights into more creative and less punitive governance mechanisms. We aim to document these kinds of initiatives across the Internet and strengthen the pro-social movement by evaluating these initiatives through research.
To encourage more cooperation in this field between the academics, civil society and social media platforms, we are building a network that includes those interested in the pro-social initiative movement. The network will provide a space for scholars, activists and social media platforms to collaborate and get regular updates about innovative pro-social solutions. Join our movement! Contact us to know more at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 For more information about legitimacy and trust refer to: Tyler, Tom R. Why people obey the law. Princeton University Press, 2006 and Meares, Tracey L. "Norms, legitimacy and law enforcement." Or. L. Rev. 79 (2000): 391.