Centre Directors’ Prof Eugenia Siapera and Dr Elizabeth Farries Present on “Civil Society Organizations as Platform Governance Actors”

8 May 2024. Last month, Prof Eugenia Siapera and Dr Elizabeth Farries presented at the online series Lab Governance, Media and Technology. Their joint presentation, on the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) as Platform Governance Actors, focused on the contradictory position that CSOs are placed in as they are expected to advocate for both human rights and the roles of markets and the state, thus reinforcing structured of neoliberal governance. 

Focusing on the European context, this presentation considered the Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Rights CSOs. It ultimately asked how CSOs participate in platform governance and to what extent they can/do engage in counter-conduct and resistance. Utilizing in-depth interviews with five senior  leading EU digital rights CSO members, and a combination of document analysis and auto-ethnography, Siapera and Farries’ work finds that CSOs operate across a “reform versus revolution” continuum: those engaging in reform work towards gradual changes in terms of platform governance, while those engaging in revolutionary methods lean towards total platform dissolution.

The roles of CSOs and their abilities to challenge the hegemonic role of platforms is often undermined by various issues that influence their overall abilities to function and make lasting change. Financial and employment precarity combined with Big Tech’s position of power across the EU diminishes the possibilities of CSOs to hold platforms to levels of accountability and transformation.

Skip to content