Citizen juries should be used to better regulate large online platforms in a bid to counter growing harms on the internet, a report has urged.

The report published by the Lowy Institute has called for small representative groups to be in charge of decision-making about how digital platforms should be regulated and overseen.

Researcher and the report’s author Lydia Khalil said practices involving deliberative democracy – the use of small cohorts representing the broader population to consider ideas – could be used in the space.

She said such measures could help to reduce the threat of misinformation online, along with lessening the impact platforms have played in eroding democracy.

“Applying deliberative democracy to the digital realm can help to not only develop new regulations or legislation on contentious issues around technology, but also establish and socialise norms of behaviour and engagement on digital platforms,” Ms Khalil said in the report.

“Solutions to the digital challenges to democracy have not only been frustrated by a lack of regulation, but by a lack of consensus.”

Ms Khalil said while large groups of the population use social media, how those platforms are governed and controlled is often decided by small numbers of people.

She said representative panels involved in the regulation of social media platforms could be used to create a better user experience and improve safety, such as gauging how dealing with misinformation should be handled.

“Sharing these responsibilities and risks through deliberative mechanisms such as platform councils could help mitigate concerns around the politicisation of decisions and achieve a more legitimate consensus,” the report said.

“Platform councils can make decisions on contestable content moderation or deplatforming.”

The report said such platform councils could be based on press councils or similar industry watchdog organisations already operating around the world.

However, Ms Khalil said there would still be challenges with setting up such ways of moderating online platforms.

“The economic logic driving the development of digital technologies … does not factor in the protection of democracy, or indeed the protection of other social and public goods. In fact, it undermines them,” she said.


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)

Categories: Legal
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