Lab Platform Governance, Media and Technology (PGMT)

11: Quint/Theocharis – Does the Community Understand the Community Guidelines?

Time and Date: July 9, 1-2pm (!) CEST

Does the Community Understand the Community Guidelines?

Friederike Quint, Yannis Theocharis, Mia Nahrgang, Margaret E. Roberts, Nils Weidmann

Social media platforms’ pivotal role in contemporary political discourse has generated much discussion around how platforms should deal with hateful language and misinformation while simultaneously protecting free speech. In an effort to be transparent, many platforms publish community guidelines which delineate what types of speech they allow. But how do people navigate the platforms’ guidelines when assessing potentially harmful content? Drawing on a sample of 337 subjects in a laboratory setting, we address this question by asking respondents to adjudicate whether potentially harmful content violates the guidelines on ten social media platforms. Tracking respondents’ browsing behavior while users navigate platforms’ community guidelines, we measure the amount of time users take, the level of uncertainty they report, and the consistency with which they assess content. Preliminary results suggest that platforms with longer community guidelines that require more clicks tend to take more time for users and result in less consistent answers across respondents. While our analysis is at an early stage still, these findings highlight the broader implications for transparency in content moderation, as they indicate that shorter, more user-friendly guidelines may be able to enhance user comprehension.  

Presenting Authors

Friederike Quint is a doctoral candidate and research associate at the Chair of Digital Governance at the Technical University of Munich. Her research interests are in transparency in and the effects of online content moderation, political behavior and communication, and attitudes toward content moderation on social media.
Yannis Theocharis is Professor and Chair of Digital Governance at the Department of Governance, Technical University of Munich. His research interests are in political behavior with a focus on how digital media impact political participation, communication, governance, and uncivil behavior in online spaces.

About the Series 

This talk is part of the series Behind the Scenes – Conversations on Empirical Platform Governance Research that invites scholars in this field to share their experiences and views, fostering  community exchange about how we can study platform governance in this challenging context. It is hosted by the Lab “Platform Governance, Media, and Technology” (PGMT) at the Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research (ZeMKI), University of Bremen, and the Centre for Media and Journalism Studies, University of Groningen.


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