Emillie Victoria de Keulenaar | Norm and technique in language moderation: deplatforming and replatforming problematic speech across contested public spheres

Emillie Victoria de Keulenaar | Norm and technique in language moderation: deplatforming and replatforming problematic speech across contested public spheres | University and department: University of Groningen, Media Studies | Promotors: Marcel Broersma and Bharath Ganesh | 1 September 2021 – 1 september 2025 | e.v.de.keulenaar[at]rug.nl

Focusing on 2015 to 2021 as period of significant conflict around user and platform speech norms online, this project traces the formation of language moderation techniques on Reddit, YouTube and Twitter. It contextualises the development of “deplatforming”, demoting and flagging hate speech and misinformation in tandem with user debates on where to draw the line between what can and cannot be said in relation to facts, truth and offences to religion, race, gender, and other subjects. In so doing, it engages with public sphere and new media theory to explore “speech affordances” as infrastructures and practices that shape conditions of sayability. In dialogue with Helmond’s notion of the “platformisation” of the Web (2015), it then asks to what extent there is a process of fragmentation of platformised public spheres — of “deplatformisation” — in the ongoing constitution of alternative platforms as competing public spheres, proposing that they work not in isolation but as co-dependent “milieux” that complement each other’s speech limitations.