Lab Platform Governance, Media and Technology (PGMT)

Session 3: Catalina Goanta – How European consumer regulation changed social media platform geographies

Time and Date: July 4, 2023, 15:00 CEST, Online

Registration via this form

Private governance on social media platforms has long been perceived as a unitary phenomenon in a unitary cyberspace, particularly when relating to Terms of Service (ToS) and additional platform documentations that apply to the relationship between platforms and users around the world. In their past, for reasons relating to transaction costs and legal divergence, platforms have imposed the same set of rules, often of US origin, well beyond the physical boundaries of their jurisdiction of establishment. However, this has led to tensions with rules in other jurisdictions, as well as a shift from cyberspace to cyberspaces of legal compliance. For instance, the European Union has a rich history of 50 years of consumer law and policy that reflects a mandatory legal framework curtailing the freedom of contract on which ToS are based. Some of this regulation, such as the Unfair Contract Terms Directive or the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, have been essential instruments of resistance in the face of the unfair clauses and practices exercised by large social media companies onto European consumers. 

This talk explores the impact of EU consumer law on social media ToS in the context of a comparison between ToS from four platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter) applied in four jurisdictions (US, UK, Germany and Singapore). It analyses the ToS strategies these social media platforms currently deploy in their global governance, and it speculates on the relative power of legal compliance. 

Catalina Goanta is an Associate Professor in Private Law and Technology and Principal Investigator of the ERC Starting Grant HUMANads, focused on understanding the impact of content monetization on social media and on reinterpreting private law fairness in the context of platform governance. Between 2016-2021 she was Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law at Maastricht University, and during  February 2018 – February 2019 a Niels Stensen fellow at the University of St. Gallen (The Institute of Work and Employment) and Harvard University (The Berkman Center for Internet and Society). She is also a non-residential fellow of the Stanford Transatlantic Technology Law Forum. 

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.


Please register via this form shortly with an email-address for the full series or this event only, so that we can share the meeting link with you.