Platform Governance and the Rebuilding of Digital Trust

Project dates: 01/02/2019 - Ongoing

Why is this important?

There is a growing debate worldwide about the political, economic and social power of digital platform companies that have become known as the FAANG: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Public controversies such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal, online fake news, and alleged foreign influence in democratic elections through social media intersect with wider concerns about implications for privacy and data security arising from what Shoshana Zuboff has termed ‘surveillance capitalism’. Public enquiries such as the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry point to cocners about the balance of power between digital platforms and advertisers, consumers and other media companies, and their effect on journalism and digital content production.

What we aim to do

Drawing on a multidisciplinary team of researchers across the fields of communication and media studies, law and economics, this project considers the policy and regulation implications of conceiving these organisations as media companies, engaged in the public distribution of online content. It examines the shifting balance between government regulation and self-regulation, and national content regulation in an age of global digital platforms. It will provide new insights for media policy makers and regulators in rethinking content regulation in the public interest.

This project investigates the regulatory and policy implications of understanding global digital platforms as media companies. Responding to ongoing public concern about these companies’ self-management of online communication and social media, we evaluate regulatory approaches to mediating abusive, offensive, defamatory and potentially illegal digital content. This project will address these concerns by developing detailed recommendation for reform that can rebuild trust in digital platforms and social media environments.

Funding / Grants

  • Australian Research Council Discovery Program (DP190100222) (2019 - 2021)

Chief Investigators


Other Team Members

  • Dr. Fiona Martin (University of Sydney)
  • Associate Professor Timothy Dwyer (University of Sydney)
  • Professor Philip Napoli (Duke University)
  • Professor Josef Trappel (University of Salzburg)


Other Partners

  • Australian Communication and Media Authority


  • Flew, Terry (2019) Guarding the gatekeepers: Trust, truth and digital platforms. Griffith Review, 64, pp.94-103.
  • Flew, Terry, Martin, Fiona, Suzor, Nicolas (2019) Internet regulation as media policy: Rethinking the question of digital communication platform governance. Journal of Digital Media and Policy, 10 (1), pp.33-50.
  • Flew, Terry (2019) Digital communication, the crisis of trust, and the post-global. Communication Research and Practice, 5 (1), pp.4-22.
  • Flew, Terry (2018) Platforms on trial. InterMedia, 46 (2), pp.24-29.
  • Flew, Terry (2019) Trust in the Digital Economy: Towards A Framework for Comparative Analysis. ICA (International Communication Association) New Media International Conference, pp.1-1.
  • Flew, Terry (2018) Technology and Trust: The Challenge of Regulating Digital Platforms. Korean Association for Broadcasting and Telecommunication Studies (KABS) International Conference, pp.1-1.