• The Digital Covenant: Non-Centralized Platform Governance on the Mastodon Social Network

    Author(s):
    Robert W. Gehl (see profile) , Diana Zulli
    Date:
    2022
    Subject(s):
    Social media, Political science, Ethics
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    alternative social media
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/1b0d-kb17
    Abstract:
    The majority of scholarship on platform governance focuses on for-profit, corporate social media with highly centralized network structures. Instead, we show how non-centralized platform governance functions in the Mastodon social network. Through an analysis of survey data, Github and Discourse developer discussions, Mastodon Codes of Conduct, and participant observations, we argue Mastodon’s platform governance is an exemplar of the covenant, a key concept from federalist political theory. We contrast Mastodon’s covenantal federalism platform governance with the contractual form used by corporate social media. We also use covenantal federalist theory to explain how Mastodon’s users, administrators, and developers justify revoking or denying membership in the federation. In doing so, this study sheds new light on the innovations in platform governance that go beyond the corporate/alt-right platform dichotomy.
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial
    Share this:

    Downloads

    Item Name: pdf hcommonsversiongehlzullicovfed.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 451