Platform Governance from the Global South

This project addresses emerging tensions and challenges in relation to platform governance from the perspective of legal, political, and social conditions in Global South contexts.

Typing on a laptop

While a growing proportion of the customer base of global platforms comprises users in countries the Global South including countries such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, Mexico, and The Philippines, much of the scholarship on platform governance and content moderation is focused on concerns framed from the perspective of laws, policies and technological and infrastructural conditions in the United States and Europe. Global South contexts in which global digital platforms operate are marked by distinct political, social, and technological conditions such as a history of colonial law and regulation and efforts by state authorities to regulate platforms to limit political dissent and inter-group tensions and based on public order. Many Global South contexts are marked by high levels of inequality and ongoing developmental efforts by states that involve building digital infrastructures meant to deliver public services and facilitate private financial services. Global platform companies have benefited from the increasing digitisation of infrastructures in the Global South, leading to a growing number of users in these jurisdictions. 

Focusing on the platform governance in Global South contexts will help redirect research questions and agendas in the field. For instance, since bigger global platforms have instituted governance measures to address harms on their platforms in response to increasing pressure from regulators and governments, many users in Global South contexts are now taking advantage of the relatively lax content moderation rules and governance mechanisms on smaller platforms. These platforms have designed their platforms to be attractive to different demographic groups including regional language users and younger users who prefer audio-visual and multimodal forms of content. Some of these platforms have appealed to nationalist and populist sentiments of users reflected in the policies of governments in parts of the Global South.

While many of the themes that this project addresses are not limited to Global South contexts, approaching platform governance from a Global South perspective allows for insights that have emerged from contexts outside of the United States and Europe. Approaching platform governance with reference to Global South contexts helps highlight increasing tensions between governance policies of big platforms and specific local contexts.   
Bringing a Global South perspective to contemporary debates on platform governance allows for an exploration of commonalities and comparisons between developments in the field between countries of the Global South contexts and enables new sites of enquiry that extend beyond the bigger global platforms.

  • Project researchers

    • Siddharth Narrain, BA LLB (Hons) (National Law School of India University, Bangalore, India); PG Dipl (Journalism) (Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, India), LLM (Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, USA)

Project outputs

  • Reference

    • Siddharth Narrain, ‘Facebook’s Crowds and Publics: Law, Virality, and the Regulation of Hate Speech Online in Contemporary India, (PhD Thesis, University of New South Wales, forthcoming).
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles

    • ‘From the Rhetorical Software to the “Hardware” of Law: Regulating Hate Speech Online in India’, 2020 (2) Gujarat National Law University Law and Society Review 63-74 (special issue on ‘Algorithms and the Law’)
    • ‘Social Media, Violence, and the Law: “Objectionable Material” and the Changing Contours of Hate Speech in India’ 2018 (10) 3 Culture Unbound 388-404
  • Book chapters

    • ‘Law, Language and Hurt Community Sentiment: Behind Hate Speech Doctrine in India’ in Janny H. C. Leung & Alan Durant. (eds.) Meaning and Power in the Language of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2018) 186-203.
    • ‘The Harm in Hate Speech Laws: Examining the Origins of Hate Speech Legislation in India’ in Rina Ramdev et al (eds.), The State of Hurt: Sentiment, Politics, Censorship (SAGE India, 2015) 39-54.
  • Other journal publications

    •  ‘Dangerous Speech in Real Time: Social Media, Policing, and Communal Violence’ 2017 (52) 34 Economic and Political Weekly,
    • ‘Hate Speech, Hurt Sentiment and the (Im)possibility of Free Speech’ 2016 (51) 17 Economic and Political Weekly 119-26 translated and republished in Russian in Irina Glushkova (ed) Shame and Pride; The Preliminaries of Emotional Standards and Practices (Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vostichnaya, Literatura, 2021) 832-53
  • Publications in academic blogs & websites

    • ‘Revisiting the Free Speech Debates in the First Amendment to the Indian Constitution’, The Leaflet, 15 August 2021.
    • ‘Internet Shutdowns: Amendment to the Telegraph Act and Licenses’, Socio-Legal Review Forum, National Law School of India University, 20 March 2018.
  • Audio-visual content

  • Academic talks, presentations and panels

    • ‘The Legal Regulation of Hate Speech Online on Facebook in Contemporary India’ at a panel on ‘Freedom of Expression in a Digital Age’ co-organised by the Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation, UNSW and the G+T Centre of Public Law, UNSW, 26 June 2023.
    • ‘Hate Speech, Law, and Platform Virality in India’ as part of three-part panel that I co-organised titled ‘Security Technologies, or, How to Live with Others 1 - Publics, Technology, and Securitisation’, 4 (Society for the Social Study of Science) ESOCITE Conference, Cholula, Mexico, 8-10 December 2022 (online)
    • ‘Platform Virality and the Regulation of Online Hate Speech in India: A Case Study of Facebook’, panel on Online Hate Speech and Misinformation co-organised by the Digital Cultures and Societies Hub & The Centre for Policy Futures, University of Queensland, 12 August 2022.
    • ‘“Lighting a Match in a Powder Keg”: Combustible Publics, and the Legal Regulation of Hate Speech in Colonial India’, Imperial Genealogies of Crime conference (convened by Prof. Meg Foster, Newnham College & Dr. Katie Roscoe, University of Liverpool), 17 May 2022.
    • ‘“Attacks on People”’ v. “Attacks on ‘Concepts”: Facebook’s Community Guidelines, Indian Law, and the Legal Regulation of Hate Speech Online in India’, Media, Law, and Policy Scholars Conference), 13 January 2022.
    • Discussant for paper on Confidentiality and rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS at workshop on Public Health and Privacy organised by Smriti Parsheera, Fellow, CyberBRICS Project, 8 October 2021.
    • Presentation as part of a panel on ‘State Governance in a Digital India’ at the Virtual Seminar on Digital Transactions in India: Platforms, Markets, Users (organized by the Centre for Policy Futures, University of Queensland), 23 July 2021.
    • ‘Reading Crowds into the First Amendment of the Indian Constitution’ as part of a panel on Constitutionalism from the Global South that I co-organised at the ICON-S-Mundo conference, 6 July 2021.
    • Discussant at workshop on The Philosophy of Law and Information in India (organised by the Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore), 6 December 2020.
    • ‘The North-East Exodus, Virality and the Regulation of Hate Speech in India’, Annual Conference of the Law and Society Association, Washington D.C., 30 May 2019.