This study introduces a comprehensive overview of literature concerning the concepts of regulation and governance, and attempts to connect them to scholarly works that deal with the governance of and by social media platforms. The paper provides fundamental definitions of regulation and governance, along with a critique of polycentricity or multi-stakeholderism, in order to contextualise the discussion around platform governance and, subsequently, online content regulation. Moreover, where traditional governance literature conceptualised stakeholders as a triangle, this article proposes going beyond the triad of public, private and non-governmental actors, to account for previously invisible stakeholder clusters, like citizens and news media organisations. This paper also contends that, while platform governance is an important field of study and practice, the way it has been structured and investigated so far, is posing an existential risk to the broader internet governance structure, primarily, because of the danger of conflating the internet with platforms. As a result, there exists a timely need to reimagine the way in which we understand and study phenomena related to platform governance by adjusting our conceptual and analytical heuristics. So, this article wishes to expand the theorisation of this field in order to better engage with complicated platform governance issues, like the development of regulatory frameworks concerning online content regulation.
Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C. (2021). “The existential stakes of platform governance: a critical literature review” Open Research Europe. 1(1).