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Platform Governance in the Super Election Year 2021

Platform Governance in the Super Election Year 2021

The German federal elections took place on 26 September 2021. In the run-up to this election, Germany was the focus of all those interested in how platforms regulate online communication and how platforms are regulated.
Four phenomena gained momentum:
  1. Rising populism and polarization, especially in the context of the corona-related reconfiguration of public communication spaces,
  2. The slow rollback of (corona-induced) increased automation of content review on social media platforms,
  3. The emergence of new dynamics and forums of political communication (“dark social”, private communication networks), and
  4. The application of two new (or revised) laws: the revised Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) and the State Media Treaty (MStV).
This came at a time when the European Commission is in the process of reviewing the proposal for the Digital Services Act (DSA), the Digital Markets Act (DMA), and the US Congress was about to begin the process of reforming Sec. 230 CDA.

The HBI has considerable expertise in analyzing the legal dimensions of ensuring the authenticity and integrity of processes of social self-determination such as elections, including through automated communication processes co-designed and influenced by algorithms.
For the 2021 federal election, a team led by Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann collected real-time data on how platforms regulate online communication, how laws and local standards interact, and how platforms' practices change in the shadow of EU regulation in the heated atmosphere of the run-up to the federal election.


A series of articles on our blog (in German) accompanied the research and provided ongoing information about its findings. Some of the blog articles are also published in this working paper
With the support of our project team, reset.tech has published a policy book, which is available as a PDF file here. 
Photo: Mika Baumeister / unsplash
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Project Description

Coming soon.

Project Information


Duration: 2021-2021

Research programme:
RP2 - Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Digital Communication

Third party


Cooperation Partner

Contact person

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard)
Senior Researcher "Regulatory Structures and the Emergence of Rules in Online Spaces"

Prof. Dr. Matthias C. Kettemann, LL.M. (Harvard)

Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI)
Rothenbaumchaussee 36
20148 Hamburg

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