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Policing the Digital Semicommons: Researching Content Moderation Practices by Social Media Companies

Sat, May 27, 11:00 to 12:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 3, Aqua 307


Social media platforms play an increasingly important civic role as platforms for discourse. They collectively form a kind of (private) public sphere: one in which members of the public gather to discuss, debate, and share information, but which ultimately are governed by corporate policies. This paper seeks to understand the moderation of content by social media platforms as a form of curating online speech. By collecting reports from users who have had their content removed or accounts shut down, it seeks to shed light into user perceptions of how content moderation works, their reports about the impact of content moderation on their lives, and the actions they take (or do not take) in order to seek redress. In doing so, it aims to provide clearer insight into how users are interpreting the obligations of social media companies to the public through the lens of free expression.


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