Please find our publications below:

Policy Brief – Business Model

By John Albert, Adelaida Barrera, Charumati Haran, Maritta Rastuti, and two anonymous authors, June 2020

Business Model Approaches to Platform Regulation in the EU

Looking ahead to the new Digital Services Act, one question facing policymakers is whether the underlying business models of social media platforms are misaligned with normative values of creating a safe, open, and reliable commons for online communication. This paper thus explores regulatory measures that would alter the business models of major social media platforms to protect users while continuing to promote innovation. It outlines three policy approaches for consideration by the European Commission, which are: reclassifying social media platforms as utilities; encouraging platforms to elevate authoritative journalism; and promoting alternative business models through a progressive tax on digital ad revenues. Adopting one or more of these approaches would serve to counteract harmful online content whilst promoting alternative models designed to serve the public interest.

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Policy Brief – Content Moderation

by Oscar Daniel Del Valle Salinas, Sarah Rerbal, Paia Ksatryo, Evan Yoshmoto, Abhipsha Mahapatro, and Kindye Atnafu Adugna, June 2020

A User-Centered Approach To Content Moderation

The current EU E-Commerce Directive supports a “notice-and-takedown” approach to content moderation. Even though the approach has been effective for contents that are certainly illegal, divergences have emerged with regards to the “grey zone” of contents that fall between illegal hate speech and the user’s right to expression. This is expressed by “overblocking” of contents by social media platforms (SMPs) in fear of being held liable. This policy paper assesses this gap in the content moderation approach in the eyes of the liability framework. The paper provides user-centered policy suggestions that promote chosen principles of freedom of speech, the right to participation, and due process as building blocks for the new legislation. These consist of a positive reward system for SMPs which includes an introduction of an EU-wide good Samaritan clause and accreditation mechanism; proper checks and balances by guaranteeing a user-inclusive appeal mechanism; and establishing an independent regulatory oversight body that comprises all relevant stakeholders.

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by Daniela Stockmann, May 20, 2020

China’s cat-and mouse game blocking web content no model for EU

China’s content clampdowns have driven internet users to underground digital spaces that are much harder to keep tabs on.

The EU rightly wants to stop online hate speech and disinformation and knows that any regulation should be a balancing act between security and freedom of speech.

Sadly, the EU is currently leaning toward prioritising safety over liberty, a fraught approach akin to one Beijing has been pursuing for two decades. China proves that sacrificing freedom for security is no solution. [Read more]


by Evan Yoshimoto, May 9, 2020

Supervision or Suppression? How Content Moderation Can Uphold Racism

“Mark Zuckerberg hates black people. Facebook’s secret censorship rules protect white men from hate speech but not black children.” – These are the headlines that appear when you search the internet for a more critical lens on how tech giants are regulating hate speech on social media platforms through content moderation. The ugly truth is revealed in these articles: content moderation is ineffective in addressing hate speech when regulation does not consider the social, political, and historical context of the content being reported. When this context is not considered, it can and does perpetuate societal discrimination against those who live on the margins of society and are acting to change their position using social media. [Read more]


by Paxia Ksatryo, April 17, 2020

One man‘s trash is another man’s treasure: Why you should care about your data

In Hansel and Gretel, two children are lured into the candy-coated home of a deceitful witch. In exchange for doing household chores, the witch fattens up our protagonists with a buffet of delicacies so that she could eat them for dinner. Our 21st century rendition stars internet users as Hansel and Gretel, and casts platforms like Facebook as the cannibalistic witch. In this version, Hansel and Gretel discover the wonders of personalized advertising, where they are recommended content for things they actually want to see – like the latest release from an artist they recently discovered on Spotify. The two provide the witch with more of their data, such as their gender, age, birthday, and location, and in exchange, she feeds them with more content to consume – so much so, it’s almost as if she knew exactly what they were craving inside-out. But the story of Hansel and Gretel hints that the witch had her own plans in mind: indeed, she was buttering them up for her own gain. [Read more]