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What We Do 

The Network is centered around an international community of researchers. We host a major online conference and facilitate workshops, collaborations, and other informal and formal mechanisms to help build ties between researchers from different cultural, disciplinary, and geographic backgrounds.

We are interdisciplinary, seeking to pull conversations about various dimensions of platform governance out of their disciplinary and in-person silos. We work to maintain an independent forum for research and collaboration between academics and research-oriented members of civil society, and seek to facilitate and foster opportunities to broaden the emerging field of platform governance, not only in terms of depth and scope, but also in terms of access and representation. We’re looking to make these ongoing academic and policy debates more global and accessible than they currently are.

We are currently doing our best to: 

  • create a low-cost venue for researchers to present work, discuss ideas, and meet future collaborators while minimizing travel, carbon emissions, and visa-related injustices;

  • create a global and interdisciplinary community of researchers, and connect them through tools for knowledge dissemination;

  • provide a forum for critical and academic discussion, deliberation, and reflection of policy and research that is independent from both industry and government.

In the longer term, we hope to:

  • facilitate the creation of open-access infrastructures for knowledge dissemination in this field (e.g. specialized Journals, curated literature reviews);

  • help build a global fellows program that spans institutions and helps facilitate deeper collaboration and support of emerging researchers;

  • re-distribute and direct resources to institutions conducting key research in lower-income regions.

Listserv and Newsletter

If this all sounds like it is of interest, please join us! We operate a closed listserv for researchers working in or outside of academia, as well as those engaged in funding, advocacy, or activism on topics related to platform governance. If you are interested, please apply to join via GaggleMail.

Network Origins

The question of how platforms create, enforce, and enact rules and technologies that affect billions of people around the world — and how different actors seek to affect those structures — has become a major focus of academic, policy-oriented, and public attention in the last decade. The current network is a crystallization of many overlapping conversations and activities across a transnational group of researchers working on various dimensions of what was increasingly being styled as ‘platform governance,’ ‘platform regulation,’ or ‘platform policy’ in multiple national contexts.  

Some momentum towards creating a more organized network structure was gained after an online workshop on ‘Empirical Approaches to Platform Governance Research’ organized by researchers at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Summer 2020. After a few related events, including the ‘Against Platform Determinismworkshop organized by researchers at Data and Society and a sister workshop convened by McGill’s new Centre for Media, Technology, and Democracy, a group of researchers spanning 15 institutions and 6 continents organized the first 3-day Platform Governance Research Network conference in Spring 2021. 

Since then, we’ve been organically growing, putting some institutional structures in place to facilitate the long term sustainability of this conference and of this community. These steps included the creation of the Network’s first Steering and Executive Committees in Summer 2022, and the ongoing organization of the next iteration of the PlatGovNet conference in Spring 2023. 

We gratefully acknowledge the MacArthur Foundation’s support of our activities thus far, as well as the administrative, financial, and logistical support provided by the Data & Society Research Institute, the Centre for Media, Technology and Democracy at McGill University, and the WZB Berlin Social Science Center.