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Plattform Governance

Platform governance


Platforms have installed themselves as key intermediaries in contemporary societies. They re-organise communication and politics, mobility and travel, work and everyday life. Yet, with this change controversies arise. How do social media companies moderate the content on their sites? How does Uber allocate drivers and assigns prices to ride requests? The way platforms order and govern the activities they host has tremendous effects on how communication, politics, mobility and other key sectors are organized in the digital society. Thus, it is no surprise that public and political attention has turned to the question how platforms shall be governed in turn. Should platforms be liable for copyrighted content that users upload, and if so, to what extent? What responsibility do they hold for hostile communication dynamics and hate speech taking place on their sites?

In this long-term project we look at both the governance of and the governance by platforms. We are specifically interested in the entanglement of discourses, regulation, and technological measures in these developments. Partly in response to public outcry and political pressure, platforms have extended and elaborated their site policy documents such as Terms of Service, Community Guidelines and Privacy Policies. At the same time, in order to balance the public pressure to take action on problematic content such as hate speech and misinformation on the one hand and the massive scale of the content that they host, platforms increasingly turn to automated measures to filter and block content deemed illegitimate. In addition to conceptual contributions on governance in general, and platform governance specifically, we empirically investigate the nexus of public discourse, policy measures and technological fixes in several sub-projects.

Sub-Projects and studies within this project:


Durationsince 2013
Sponsorsself-funded, for other sources of funding see sub-projects


Christian Katzenbach, Prof. Dr.

Associated researcher: The evolving digital society

Part of the research programme

Former employees


Katzenbach, C. (2017). Die Regeln digitaler Kommunikation. Governance zwischen Norm, Diskurs und Technik. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-658-19337-9 Publication details

MacKinnon, R., Hickok, E., Bar, A., & Lim, H. with research contribution by Kirsten Gollatz (2015). Fostering Freedom Online: the Role of Internet Intermediaries. Paris, France: UNESCO/Internet Society. Publication details

Journal articles and conference proceedings

Gorwa, R., Binns, R., & Katzenbach, C. (2020). Algorithmic Content Moderation: Technical and Political Challenges in the Automation of Platform Governance. Big Data & Society, 7(1). DOI: 10.1177/2053951719897945 Publication details

Waldherr, A., Geise, S., & Katzenbach, C. (2019). Because Technology Matters – Revisiting Actor-Network-Theory for Computational Communication Science. International Journal of Communication, 13. Publication details

Hofmann, J., Katzenbach, C., & Gollatz, K. (2016). Between coordination and regulation: Finding the governance in Internet governance. New Media & Society. Publication details

Pentzold, C., Katzenbach, C., & Fraas, C. (2014). Digitale Plattformen und Öffentlichkeiten mediatisierter politischer Kommunikation. Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), 14(22-23), 28-34. Publication details

Gollatz, K. (2014). Online Free expression in the Corporate Realm: Corporations’ Policies and Practices Shaping Private Speech on Communication Platforms. Nova Acta Leopoldina, NF 119(403), 49-55. Publication details

Book contributions and chapters

Dogruel, L. & Katzenbach, C. (2018). Internet-Ökonomie – Grundlagen, Strategien, Plattformen. In Schweiger, W. & Beck, K. (Eds.), Handbuch Online-Kommunikation. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. Publication details

Christian Katzenbach (2018). Die Ordnung der Algorithmen. Zur Automatisierung von Relevanz und Regulierung gesellschaftlicher Kommunikation. In R. Mohabbat Kar, B. Thapa, P. Parycek, (Un)Berechenbar? Algorithmen und Automatisierung in Staat und Gesellschaft (pp. 315-339). Berlin: Kompetenzzentrum Öffentliche IT. Publication details

Katzenbach, C. (2017). Von kleinen Gesprächen zu großen Öffentlichkeiten? Zur Dynamik und Theorie von Öffentlichkeiten in sozialen Medien. In Klaus, E. & Drüeke, R., Öffentlichkeiten und gesellschaftliche Aushandlungsprozesse. Theoretische Perspektiven und empirische Befunde (pp. 151-174). Bielefeld: Transcript. Publication details

Hofmann, J., Katzenbach, C., & Gollatz, K. (2013). Freedom on the Net Report Germany. In Kelly, S., Truong, M., Earp, M., Reed, L., Shahbaz, A., & Greco-Stoner, A. (Eds.), Freedom on the Net 2013 (pp. 302-321). New York, NY: Freedom House. Publication details

Working paper

Gollatz, K., Beer, F. &, Katzenbach, C. (2018). The Turn to Artificial Intelligence in Governing Communication Online Workshop Report. HIIG Discussion Paper Series, 2018(09). Publication details

Hofmann, J., Katzenbach, C., & Gollatz, K. (2014). Between Coordination and Regulation: Conceptualizing Governance in Internet Governance. HIIG Discussion Paper Series, 2014(04). Publication details

Wagner, B., Gollatz, K., & Calderaro, A. (2014). Internet & Human Rights in Foreign Policy: comparing narratives in the US and EU Internet Governance agenda. EUI Working Paper RSCAS; Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), 2014/86. Publication details

Other publications

Friederici, N. (2021). Platform Alternatives: The Strategic Guide to Responsible Platform Business. HIIG Impact Publication Series. Publication details

Magalhães, J. C., Couldry, N. (2020). Tech Giants Are Using This Crisis to Colonize the Welfare System, [Jacobin]. Publication details

Gollatz, K., Riedl, M. J. & Pohlmann, J. (2018). Removals of Online Hate Speech in Numbers. Digital Society Blog, HIIG Science Blog, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin, Germany. Cross-posted at Media Policy Project Blog, London School of Economics, London, UK. Publication details

Gollatz, K. & Jenner, L. (2017). Hate Speech und Fake News – Über die Vermischung und Politisierung zweier Begriffe, Teil 2. Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Gollatz, K. & Jenner, L. (2017). Hate Speech und Fake News – Über die Vermischung und Politisierung zweier Begriffe, Teil 1. Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Gollatz, K. (2016). The Power of Platforms. Digital Society Blog. Publication details

Gollatz, K. (2014). Deutsche Telekom’s ‘surveillance report’ builds on a trend. Internet Policy Review. Publication details

Gollatz, K. (2013). App development: is ‘privacy by design’ the new standard? Internet Policy Review. Publication details

Lectures and presentations

Emerging Structures of Platform Governance and Copyright. Methods and Challenges in Studying Content Policies
Public and private regulatory framework of online intermediaries. University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary: 05.05.2020

João Carlos Magalhães, Christian Katzenbach

Die Dynamik der Governance digitalisierter Meinungsbildung auf Plattformen
DGPuK 2020: Jahrestagung 2020 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. Department of Media and Communication (IfKW). Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany: 11.03.2020 Further information

Christian Katzenbach

Digitale Gesellschaft = Automatisierung von Programmen und Regeln?
Großer Konvent der Schader-Stiftung. Schader-Forum, Darmstadt, Germany: 09.11.2018 Further information

Christian Katzenbach

Künstliche Intelligenz und Algorithmen – Ethische und politische Herausforderungen in der Digitalen Gesellschaft
Neusser Wirtschaftstreff. Amt für Wirtschaftsförderung, Stadt Neuss. Sparkassen-Forum, Neuss, Germany: 25.09.2018

Christian Katzenbach

Platform Governance as Reflexive Coordination – Mediating Nudity, Hate Speech and Fake News on Facebook
AoIR 2017 Networked Publics. Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia: 19.10.2017

Christian Katzenbach, Kirsten Gollatz

Politics of Discourse: Fake News Controversy in Germany and how it solidifies in new institutional arrangements
AoIR 2017 Networked Publics (Session: Misinformation, Propaganda and "Fake News": A European Perspective). Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia: 19.10.2017

Kirsten Gollatz, Jonas Kaiser, Cornelius Puschmann

Ordering (Digital) Communication: Eine mediensoziologische Zusammenführung von Regulierung, Kommunikation und Technik
Medien- und Kommunikationssoziologie: Vergangenheit, Gegenwart und Zukunft. Gemeinsame Tagung der DGPuK-FG Soziologie der Medienkommunikation und der DGS-Sektion Medien- und Kommunikationssoziologie. Zeppelin Universität, Friedrichshafen, Germany: 11.10.2017

Christian Katzenbach

The turn to artificial intelligence in content moderation
Digital-born Media Carnival (Session: Understanding Complex Systems). SHARE Foundation, OSCE Mission to Serbia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Pjaca od Kina, Kotor, Montenegro: 17.07.2017

Kirsten Gollatz

Measuring User Rights Online: Numerical Rankings as a Form of Governing Internet Freedom
Annual Conference of the Canadian Sociological Association at Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences 2017 (Session: Sociology of quantification, commensuration, statistics, and valuation). Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada: 29.05.2017

Kirsten Gollatz

Governing Platforms by Algorithms? Digital Sovereignty and the Technological Fix for Hate Speech and Fake News
Digital Future 2017 – Digital Science Match. Tagesspiegel / Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft. Kosmos, Berlin, Germany: 12.05.2017

Christian Katzenbach

Platform Governance. Die regulative, normative, diskursive und technische Regelung vernetzter Kommunikation
Jahrestagung 2017 der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Publizistik- und Kommunikationswissenschaft (DGPuK). Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany: 31.03.2017

Christian Katzenbach

Regulations, Norms, Discourses and Technology: An Integrated Governance Perspective for Media and Communication Studies
ECREA 2016 – 6th European Communication Congress. Congress Center, Prague, Czech Republic: 09.11.2016

Christian Katzenbach

My place, my rules! Wie Plattformen entscheiden was wir online sagen können
Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften. Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften e.V.. Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, Berlin, Germany: 11.06.2016

Kirsten Gollatz

Continous Ordering and Algorithmic Translation: How STS opens up and re-assembles Internet Governance
Internet Research 16. Association of Internet Research. ., Phoenix, USA: 23.10.2015

Christian Katzenbach, Kirsten Gollatz, Jeanette Hofmann

"You own your content, but…" - Tracing changing notions of ownership over user content in social media platform policies
Media Trends 2015: Power and Media: Ownership, Sponsorship, Censorship (Session: Panel 8. Users and Consumers). Webster Vienna Private University's Media Communications department. Webster Vienna Private University, Vienna, Austria: 12.09.2015

Kirsten Gollatz

Internet Governance – Komplexe Strukturen, reflexive Prozesse und deren Legitimität
Telemedicus Sommerkonferenz: Zwei Schritte vorwärts: Die Zukunft des Internetrechts (Session: Rough Consensus and Running Code). Telemedicus in Kooperation mit Internet & Gesellschaft Collaboratory, Hertie Stiftung, Alexander von Humboldt Institut für Internet und Gesellschaft, Humboldt Law Clinic Internetrecht. Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany: 30.08.2015

Kirsten Gollatz

Governance durch Algorithmen? "Politics of Platforms" und die Ordnung des Netzes
Vortragsreihe "Kollektives Handeln im Netz". Institut für Sozialwissenschaft, Abteilung Organisations- und Innovationssoziologie. Universität Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany: 13.01.2015

Christian Katzenbach

Between Coordination and Regulation: Conceptualizing Governance in Internet Governance
GigaNet 9th Annual Symposium (Session: THEORETICAL SESSION: Conceptualizing Internet governance). The Global Internet Governance Academic Network (GigaNet). Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center, Istanbul, Turkey: 01.09.2014

Jeanette Hofmann, Christian, Katzenbach, Kirsten Gollatz

Terms & Conditions – it's ze law, stupid! Taking practical suggestions from German Constitutional Law
RightsCon Silicon Valley. access. Mission Bay Conference Center, San Francisco, USA: 03.03.2014

Kirsten Gollatz, Julian Staben

Corporate Policies and Practices Shaping Private Speech Online
4th Symposium
 “Human Rights and Science” (Session: Human Rights and New Media). Human Rights Committee of the
 German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and Polish Academy of Sciences. Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland: 13.09.2013

Kirsten Gollatz

Common Narrative Divergent Agendas: The Internet and Human Rights in Foreign Policy
1st International Conference on Internet Science of the Network of Excellence in Internet Science (EINS) (Session: Internet Science and Politics). EINS project, the FP7 European Network of Excellence in Internet Science. Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts, Brussels, Belgium: 10.04.2013

Ben Wagner, Kirsten Gollatz, Andrea Calderaro

Facebook at a Tipping Point. Is there a need for a new valorization of privacy?
4th European Communication Conference on “Social Media – Global Voices”, ECREA 2012. ECREA European Communication Research and Education Association. Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul, Turkey: 27.10.2012

Kirsten Gollatz, Alexander Sängerlaub

The quasi-public Sphere of Online Platforms. Global Spaces for Free Expression?
ECREA 2012 Pre-Conference “Imposing Freedoms: The role of copyright, privacy and censorship governance in the re/definition of rights in digital media” (Session: Freedom and the media). Media Governance and Industries Research Group of the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Vienna. Plato College of Higher Education, Istanbul, Turkey: 23.10.2012

Kirsten Gollatz

Organisation of events

The First Annual Conference of the Platform Governance Research Network
From 24.03.2021 to 26.03.2021. Online, Berlin, Germany. Co-Organised by: Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans Bredow Institute (HBI) (International) Further information

Robert Gorwa, João Carlos Magalhães, Clara Iglesias Keller, Amélie Heldt, Christian Katzenbach