Online platforms and the challenges of democratic exclusion
Through their low barriers to entry, digital public venues have offered new possibilities for those who previously have been largely excluded from public venues (such as mainstream news media), but have the right kind of resources in order to mobilize online. In particular, anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian forces have made successful use of digital public venues in order to attack democratic norms and processes.
Even though the response to these developments has been increasingly focused on excluding problematic participants and content, so far little knowledge exists on what such exclusion might look like in order to protect – and preferably also deepen – democracy. The purpose with this project is therefore to investigate how to democratically exclude certain actors or groups from digital public venues.
The project spans over three years and will employ a mixed-methods approach to analyze a wide range of material, including platform regulations, interviews with platform officials and the content of 'deplatformed' politicians’ social media channels. The empirical parts of the project will provide extensive knowledge of the platforms' existing exclusion strategies, as well as their consequences by analyzing how political actors respond to being banned or suspended. Building on the insights from these studies, the normative part of the project will contribute with a systematic theorization of what democratic exclusion could and should look like in the context of digital public venues.
Principal Investigator: Malin Holm (Department of Government)
Funding: SEK 3 450 000 from Vetenskapsrådet