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From disinformation to hate speech: Platform Governance Archive reveals how social platforms regulate our communication

28 November 2023

Bremen, Berlin – The Platform Governance Archive (PGA) has released a systematic collection of the corporate policies of major social media platforms. Researchers, journalists and the general public can now use the archive to follow how the rules and regulations of social networks have changed over the last 15 years and how they influence public communication in our society. The latest version of the PGA was published by the Lab “Platform Governance, Media, and Technology” (PGMT) at the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) in cooperation with the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG).

How do the communication rules of companies like X Corp, Meta and YouTube evolve? What content do the platforms delete and what opinions, topics or political advertisements do they highlight? To facilitate a detailed analysis and historical tracing of these issues, the Platform Governance Archive collects community guidelines, terms of service and privacy policies of various social networks. The archive is updated daily and covers to date the following platforms: Facebook, Instagram, LINE, LinkedIn, Parler, Pinterest, Quora, Reddit, Snapchat, Spotify, Telegram, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitch, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp and YouTube.

Prof. Dr. Christian Katzenbach, Head of the project at the ZeMKI, explains: “Our open-access online archive marks a crucial step in the study of digital communication. It allows us to dive deep into the history and the present of platform policies and understand how they have been modified in relation to critical events,  for instance, far-right incidents, the Corona pandemic or disinformation in wars such as the current one between Israel and Hamas.” Prof. Dr. Jeanette Hofmann, Research Director at HIIG, adds: “The Platform Governance Archive is an important resource not only for the academic community, but also for journalists and policy makers who seek access to up-to-date, comparative data.” Being able to monitor the rulebook of platform companies on a daily basis, Hofmann says, is “gaining in significance and urgency, especially in the context of elections and European regulations such as the Digital Services Act.”

The first version of the Platform Governance Archive was created in 2021 by the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. The main goal: to map historical developments of platform policies in a transparent and independent way. The initial dataset focused on the rulebooks of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram. With the latest update by the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research in cooperation with the Open Terms Archive, the scope of the archive has been expanded to 79 policies from 18 different platforms. An ongoing update enables journalists, researchers, regulators and the broader public to monitor changes to the platform rules on a daily basis. For more information, downloads and access to the data paper, please visit the official website of the Platform Governance Archive.

Further information

Press contact and questions about the project
Frederik Efferenn
Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG)
Tel. +49 30 200 760 82 

The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society
The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) researches the development of the Internet from a societal perspective in order to better understand the accompanying digitalisation of all areas of life. As the first research institute in Germany with a focus on Internet and society, HIIG has developed an understanding that emphasises the embedding of digital innovations in social processes. Based on this transdisciplinary expertise and as part of the Global Network of Interdisciplinary Internet & Society Research Centers, HIIG aims to develop a European response to digital structural change.

Lab für Platform Governance, Medien und Technologie (PGMT)
The lab “Platform Governance, Media, and Technology” (PGMT) at the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI) at the University of Bremen carries out research, teaching and knowledge transfer at the nexus of governance, digital communication and new technologies. Under the lead of Prof Dr Christian Katzenbach, the team is working on projects with international partners to investigate platforms and their governance, as well as the discursive, political and technological construction of artificial intelligence (AI).

Frederik Efferenn

Head of Science Communication

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