Element 68Element 45Element 44Element 63Element 64Element 43Element 41Element 46Element 47Element 69Element 76Element 62Element 61Element 81Element 82Element 50Element 52Element 79Element 79Element 7Element 8Element 73Element 74Element 17Element 16Element 75Element 13Element 12Element 14Element 15Element 31Element 32Element 59Element 58Element 71Element 70Element 88Element 88Element 56Element 57Element 54Element 55Element 18Element 20Element 23Element 65Element 21Element 22iconsiconsElement 83iconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsiconsElement 84iconsiconsElement 36Element 35Element 1Element 27Element 28Element 30Element 29Element 24Element 25Element 2Element 1Element 66
Inside Facebook

Inside Facebook



For the first time, Facebook has given scientists direct access to its internal decision-making bodies. Researchers from the Hamburg-based Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI) have investigated how Facebook develops communication rules for its platform. On the BredowCast, researchers Wolfgang Schulz and Matthias C. Kettemann talk about research on new territory.

Facebook’s Community Standards regulate what users can say on Facebook and what must be taken down and thereby influence the ways in which 2.7 billion users interact with one another and, to some degree, perceive the world: These rules are an example of the profound influence that private regulations can have on public communication.

In a pilot study, researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Media Research have investigated how Facebook develops its rules and which stakeholders are involved in this process. Matthias C. Kettemann, head of research of the Institute’s research programme on online rule-making and a senior researcher at the HBI, spent a week studying the practices of Facebook’s Product Policy Team, which is responsible for developing community standards at the platform’s California headquarters. In addition, the researchers conducted extensive interviews with Facebook employees to develop a clear picture of how new speech-related norms are designed and how Facebook tries to increase their impact and legitimacy by engaging multiple stakeholders, from NGOs to academics.

“We know a lot about the emergence of laws, but very little about the development of communication platforms’ internal rules, the rules under which Facebook deletes content and suspends users,” says Dr. Kettemann.  “For a long time this was a black box,” says Wolfgang Schulz, Director of HBI, “into which we are now able to shed some light.”

Key Outomes

One of the findings of the pilot project is that rule-setting processes at Facebook, on the problem of hate speech, for example, are initiated independently by employees or in response to user comments or media criticism. The main part of the norm-making process is essentially independent of national and international law, but, as the researchers were able to show, Facebook attempts to recreate the legitimacy-producing effect of clear procedures, broad consultation, and stakeholder engagement. The same is true for national law-making: the more open and engaging the process of passing a law is, the greater its legitimacy.
In the BredowCast interview with Johanna Sebauer, the two researchers explain how the research project came about, what the everyday life of a field researcher looks like at Facebook and why researching private norms is important.

Both media law experts emphasize: “Given the impact that private regulatory approaches have on the spheres of communicative freedom of individuals and the social cohesion of society, we need to better understand how these normative processes function. Our research lays the foundations to develop this understanding.”

Links

Complete Study  Facebook Product Policy Changes Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz PD Dr. Matthias Kettemann, LL.M  (Harvard) Johanna Sebauer Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive the Institute's latest news via email.

SUBSCRIBE!