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Democracy in Social Networks? Ralf Bendrath

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Presentation on theme: "Democracy in Social Networks? Ralf Bendrath"— Presentation transcript:

1 Democracy in Social Networks? Ralf Bendrath

2 Social Networking Platforms provide a space where –people meet –people create content –people collaborate public as well as personal spaces –individual identities & roles –public discussions and collaborations live off the users contributions

3 Users and Providers Users provide the real value of any social networking site Users are the network Providers provide the infrastructure. We dont really care who they are, we care about our friends. We are brand agnostic.

4 The provider as government The only time one interacts with Facebook as entity is when they are being controlled or punished. Facebook as brand represents surveillance and domination. (Fred Stutzman)

5 A Pretty Mighty Government Can kill us if we dont use our real names Surveillance bots that track us Secret master key to our locked houses Laws of the land can not be negotiated We dont get any share from the revenue But we can be sold instead!

6 Growing Unease Feeling of unjust exploitation –StudiVZ deal: Where are my 100 ? More private profiles –Decreases the value of the platform as a whole Protests against changes in TOS Less or false data provided

7 Pressure from below? Exit –just move somewhere else –basis of competition –market behaviour Voice –start internal and external debates –public pressure –But: no real power, mainly exit threat

8 Exit? Network Externalities If a platform gets big enough, it becomes a network good –eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, … –more or less forced to use it I cant take away my data and my friends –data portability and its problems

9 Regulation? Standard for network goods Regulatory Agencies Product Standards Pretty normal for other products and services Would ensure real exit option and strengthen competition

10 Regulation? Already there –unfair and deceptive trade practices –privacy and data protection laws Missing –user rights, e.g. freedom of expression –accessibility –universal service / unbundling data portability

11 Regulation? Transnational Spaces –Who should regulate? –State of California, ITU, ICANN? Who wants the Government of China involved here? –Who would organize the policy development process? –And where?

12 Oh, we already have a Space! It is only logical to debate the laws of the land for Facebook on Facebook. And turn slaves into citizens. This may just be happening…

13 Democracy on Facebook? New terms of use –Rights and Responsibilities Charter of user rights –Facebook Principles User input on drafts Subject to Popular Vote –Binding (more or less) Chris Kelly: Constitutional Documents

14 Or Democracy Theater? You have to join Facebook first No comments on the overall process Bad tools No votes on other documents FB retains the right to unilateral changes Voting process defined and implemented by Facebook

15 Source: Bonneau, Preibusch, Anderson, Clayton, Anderson (2009): Democracy Theatre: Comments on Facebook's Proposed Governance Scheme

16 Or a good start? Facebook unilateral changes –What happens when users want to overturn them and vote? Voting on other documents –Users will demand this Competitive factor –Will MySpace offer more voting options? Language of Democracy is contageous

17 Elections? History tells us that systems are most fairly governed when there is an open and transparent dialogue between the people who make decisions and those who are affected by them. (Mark Zuckerberg)

18 Ralf Bendrath 2009

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