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Regulating terrorist content on tech platforms: A proposed framework based on social regulation / AMY-LOUISE WATKIN

Swansea University Author: AMY-LOUISE WATKIN

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.57985

Abstract

Scholars have been arguing for years that responses to terrorist content on tech platforms have, to-date, been inadequate. Past responses have been reactive and fragmented with tech platforms self-regulating. Over the last few years, many governments began to decide that the self-regulatory approach...

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Published: Swansea 2021
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Macdonald, Stuart. ; Nouri, Lella. ; Bishop, Patrick
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa57985
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Abstract: Scholars have been arguing for years that responses to terrorist content on tech platforms have, to-date, been inadequate. Past responses have been reactive and fragmented with tech platforms self-regulating. Over the last few years, many governments began to decide that the self-regulatory approach was not working. As a result, a number of regulatory frameworks have been proposed and/or implemented. However, they have been highly criticised. The purpose of this thesis is to propose a new regulatory framework to counter terrorist content on tech platforms and overcome many of these criticisms. Scholars have argued that it is vital that future regulation be informed by past experience and supported by evidence from prior research. Therefore, a number of steps were taken. First, this thesis examines a review of literature into what platforms are exploited by terrorist organisations. Next, a content analysis was undertaken on blogposts that tech platforms publish in order to investigate the efforts that tech platforms report making to counter terrorist content on their services and the challenges that they face. Third, a sample of existing or currently proposed regulatory frameworks were examined in order to learn what was done well and what gaps, limitations and challenges exist that require addressing in future regulation. Finally, social regulation theory was identified as applicable in this regulatory context. Social regulation strategies were examined in three other regulatory contexts in order to examine whether they could be used in this regulatory context. The findings from the above analyses were used to inform a new regulatory framework that is proposed in this thesis. In addition to proposing a new regulatory framework, this thesis also identified three compliance issues that tech platforms may face. These compliance issues are addressed alongside the proposal of the framework. Overall, it is argued that previous regulatory attempts failed to consider the diverse array of challenges that are faced by different platforms when countering terrorist content. The regulatory framework proposed in this thesis researched these challenges and identified strategies from a social regulation approach, learning lessons from how they were applied elsewhere to overcome some of the key criticisms and limitations of existing regulatory practice.
Item Description: ORCiD identifier https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5357-1400
Keywords: Online terrorist content, regulation, social media platforms
College: Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law