The relationship between journalists and platforms in European online content governance: A case study on a non-interference principle

Published in European Journal of Communication, 2023

Amongst the many debates within the sphere of platform governance, one is particularly telling of the political stakes at play: how should journalistic content be treated in relation to content regulation? There is, perhaps, no better case in which this is playing out than the upcoming Digital Services Act proposed by the European Commission. Specifically, on the one hand, news media organisations have been lobbying for a дnon-interference principleе that would prevent platforms from moderating editorial content that has been published by credible news sources, while on the other hand, officials, platforms, and civil society experts have been arguing against such a measure, primarily, due to the risk of creating an exploitable loophole for bad actors. This paper aims to unravel the contentious negotiations behind this debate. This article draws from more than a dozen of in-depth interviews with relevant stakeholders. Finally, this paper aspires to help inform the multifaceted conundrum of who governs the contemporary digital public sphere, to further expose the risks of entrusting this task solely to social media platforms and, last, to contribute to a much-needed theorisation and reconsideration of news mediaеs role in platform governance.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C. (2023). ‘The non-interference principle’: Debating online platforms’ treatment of editorial content in the European Union’s Digital Services Act. European Journal of Communication, 0(0).

Regulating dependency: the political stakes of online platforms’ deals with French publishers

Published in Anàlisi, 2023

At a time when the news industry struggles to cope with the dominance of the advertising market by large platforms, along with recent crises like the Covid-19 pandemic, commercial deals and regulatory initiatives are becoming increasingly common. While there is ample space for regulatory interventions seeking to level the playing field between news industryеs stakeholders and platforms, we are concerned these might further cement dependency of the former on the latter through co-regulatory frameworks that epitomize the capture of vital infrastructures by platforms. This article examines the three-year negotiation of French news publishers with Google and Meta, which concluded with four framework agreements being signed. For our analysis, we first look at the historical trajectory of how these deals were made possible using secondary sources, like leaks, press releases and the French Competition Authorityеs rulings, and we then discuss their details and implications. We trace Googleеs attempt to capture news media in France and discuss the asymmetrical power it has muscled over the news industry, and how the subsequent deals with Meta were affected. Finally, our case study shows that these frameworks are not sufficient to tackle systemic imbalances а even if they mean well - because they fail to challenge the concentration of power by a handful of oligopolistic private companies and, thus, effectively leave it up to them and the free marketеs idiosyncrasies to decide how they are implemented.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C., & Smyrnaios, N. (2023). Regulating dependency: The political stakes of online platforms’ deals with French publishers. Anàlisi, 68, 117–134. h

Google News Initiative’s Influence on Technological Media Innovation in Africa and the Middle East

Published in Media and Communication (Forthcoming), 2023

The Google News Initiative (GNI) aims to collaborate closely with the news industry and financially support the creation of quality journalism in the digital age. It also aims to bring technological advancements and innovation into newsrooms’ operations. Drawing on journalism innovation and responsible innovation theories, this study examines GNI beneficiaries in Africa and the Middle East. To address this, we analysed GNI projects’ descriptions combined with thirteen (n = 13) in‐depth interviews with leading actors and beneficiary news organisations to answer two main questions: (a) What are the main characteristics of the technological innovations proposed by GNI Innovation Challenge grantees in Africa and the Middle East? and (b) How are these news media organisations becoming increasingly dependent on these platforms’ technological and financial aspects? Anchored in journalism innovation, responsible innovation, and platformisation the‐ ories, our findings show that funded organisations heavily depend on Google’s technological and financial infrastructure to innovate. Furthermore, we note that some projects do not offer a clear path for sustainability in the future. We further argue that this initiative builds an infrastructure of power and dependency that poses risks to responsible innovation in journalism. Our study contributes to extant scholarship on digital platforms and their role in the infrastructure of news organisations, creating power asymmetries between those who serve as the backbone for data flows and technological processes and those dependent on these institutions.

Recommended citation: de-Lima-Santos, M.F,, Munoriyarwa, A., Elega, A., & Papaevangelou, C. (2023). Google News Initiative’s Influence on Technological Media Innovation in Africa and the Middle East. Media and Communication, 11(2). doi:

Funding Intermediaries: Google and Facebookеs Strategy to Capture Journalism

Published in Digital Journalism, 2023

With more and more governments around the world considering or having already passed laws aiming to regulate the relationship between news publishers and online platforms, primarily, by ensuring a form of remuneration of the former from the latter, we ought to understand the current situation. This article seeks to inquire who platforms fund, how and why. We created a dataset of organizations that have participated in Google News Initiative or Facebook Journalism Project by gathering data from communicative and informative material found on the websites of platforms and beneficiaries. Through our analysis, we identified stakeholders that play a crucial role in the realization of platformsе funding programs, whom we call funding intermediaries. Therefore, this article contends that the platformsе strategic decision has not only been to distribute money through a complicated governance structure, but also to target parts of the industry that have been hurt by an ongoing crisis, aggravated by the platformsе dominance of the advertising industry. However, funding journalism ensures neither media capture, i.e., positive or lack of critical coverage, nor regulatory capture, i.e., avoiding or adjusting regulation. As a result, we ultimately propose to approach capture as a political-economic concept to study platform power.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C. (2023). Funding Intermediaries: Google and Facebookеs Strategy to Capture Journalism. Digital Journalism.

The role of citizens in platform governance: A case study on public consultations regarding online content regulation in the European Union

Published in Global Media and China, 2023

This article proposes to start considering the role that citizens play in platform governance as a way of critically reflecting on issues of inclusivity in and effectiveness of current decision-making processes. This article attempts to apply the above suggestion by studying citizensе discourse in recent European efforts to regulate online content. It does so by employing an experimental methodology, namely, a computationally assisted Critical Discourse Analysis on textual data derived from citizensе contributions to the European Commissionеs Public Consultations on three crucial regulatory texts: the Code of Practice on Disinformation, the Recommendation on Tackling Illegal Content Online and the Digital Services Act. The present analysis suggests that the EUеs strategy to advance participatory governance through public consultations seems to ignore citizensе qualitative input and, thus, the feedback received can be severely limited. Concluding, the article maintains that scholarship should adopt a more encompassing scope when studying platform governance, especially concerning citizen and user participation, beyond the traditional frame of participation through civil society representation, while critically scrutinising existing ostensibly participatory structures.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C. (2023). The role of citizens in platform governance: A case study on public consultations regarding online content regulation in the European Union. Global Media and China, 0(0).

The Case of a Facebook Content Moderation Debacle in Greece

Published in Journalism and Digital Content in Emerging Media Markets, 2022

This chapter first discusses how Facebookеs content moderation process works, along with Facebookеs policies on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations, which were allegedly violated in the case we examine in this chapter; second, we briefly describe necessary contextual information regarding 17 November and Koufontinasеs actions, as well as what sparked the controversy presented here. Our case study consists of several instances of content removals and account restrictions of Greek journalists that were covering protests and were participating in the public debate around Koufontinas's hunger strike. All examined content moderation decisions took place on Facebook during the same period, mostly between February and April 2021. Last, we conduct a case-by-case analysis to deduce if the content had indeed violated any platform policy to extrapolate what may have happened in this case study and what socio-political stakes exist with the current content governance. Consequently, we argue that this chapter further demonstrates platformsе preference to proactively err on the side of more content removal rather than letting politically controversial content on its services; this also further strengthens the argument that platforms are not neutral intermediaries and are increasingly taking editorial decisions.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C., Smyrnaios, N. (2022). The Case of a Facebook Content Moderation Debacle in Greece. In: Iordanidou, S., Jebril, N., Takas, E. (eds) Journalism and Digital Content in Emerging Media Markets . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Covidcheck: assessing the implementation of EU code of practice on disinformation in relation to Covid-19

Published in Dublin City University, 2021

CovidCheck is the third monitoring report that has been commissioned by the BAI and prepared by the DCU Institute for Future Media, Democracy and Society (FuJo), on the implementation of the Code in Ireland. Each of these reports has been part of a larger monitoring process undertaken by European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), at the request of the EU Commission. As with the first two reports, the authors of CovidCheck conclude that, while the Code is a significant first step in fighting disinformation, significant weaknesses in terms of structure, content and enforcement remain to be addressed. This conclusion also underpins the guidance issued by the EU Commission in May 2021 on how the Code should be strengthened by the signatories to become a more effective tool in fighting disinformation.

Recommended citation: Eileen, C., Kirsty, P., Feenane, T., Papaevangelou, C., Conroy, A., & Suiter, J. (2021). CovidCheck: Assessing the Implentation of EU Code of Practice on Disinformation in Relation to Covid-19. DCU Institute of Future Media, Democracy and Society & Broadcasting Authority of Ireland .

Exploring Video-game Production’s Contingency on Live-Streaming Platforms: The Case of Twitch

Published in AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021, 2021

This article studies the cultural contingency of video-game production on Amazonеs live-streaming platform, Twitch. It looks at this phenomenon from a political-economic perspective to unearth Twitchеs platformisation strategy to better understand what it means for the video-game industry. Platformisation signifies the infrastructural embeddedness of platforms, supported by a business strategy of expanding beyond their servicesе boundaries to standardise appropriation, processing and exploitation of data, resulting in a dependency of content creators on digital platforms. Subsequently, we wish to grasp what dependencies are created and how it is made possible. We argue that Twitch is transforming into an integral part of the video-game production cycle by expanding its services to every stage of a gameеs life cycle. Consequently, game developers are incentivised to apply these features in their game design, thus creating an economic feedback loop that a) aspires to increase user acquisition, retention and revenue, b) locks-in game developers and viewers alike, and c) вplatformisesг the gaming experience.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C., & Roinioti, E. (2021). EXPLORING VIDEO-GAME PRODUCTIONеS CONTINGENCY ON LIVE-STREAMING PLATFORMS: THE CASE OF TWITCH. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021.

The existential stakes of platform governance: a critical literature review

Published in Open Research Europe, 2021

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).

eSports and Digital Arenas

Published in Digital Games: Philosophical, social and cultural investigations, 2021

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C., & Roinioti, E. (2021). eSports and Digital Arenas. In Digital Games: Philosophical, social and cultural investigations. Oasis.

Recommended citation: Papaevangelou, C., & Roinioti, E. (2021). eSports and Digital Arenas. In Digital Games: Philosophical, social and cultural investigations. Oasis.