Phil Napoli on Social Media, Algorithms, and the Public Interest: Exploring the Migration of a Governance Principle from Traditional to New Media:
The public interest concept has traditionally been a central, multi-faceted, and highly contested guiding principle in the governance of media platforms that have played a significant role in the dissemination of news and information. As social media platforms play an increasingly important role in how news is disseminated and consumed, it is important to examine if and how this principle is taking shape in the realm of social media governance, and to identify points of intersection and disconnect with the principle’s interpretation and application in the governance of traditional media. Drawing upon social media governance discourse and research on the dynamics of how social media platforms are being used in the dissemination and consumption of news and information, this presentation will illustrate that a restrictive and individualist model of the public interest characterizes the social media space. The implications of this emerging manifestation of the public interest in social media governance will then be considered within the broader context of developing a viable public interest framework for algorithm governance.