The Law and Political Economy of Online Visibility
Market Justice in the Digital Services Act
Keywords:digital justice, digital services act, dsa, code of practice on disinformation, social media, platform regulation, platform governance, recommendations, recommender systems, economies of visibility
The paper critically assesses the regulation of social media recommendations in the EU’s 2022 Digital Services Act (DSA), drawing on Sarah Banet-Weiser’s economies of visibility theory. Banet-Weiser calls attention not only to injustices in the distribution of visibility between users, but also to the political implications of organising online media as an economy, in which individuals compete for visibility in a market structured by corporate platforms. DSA provisions on recommendations focus on enhancing user choice, protecting creators’ market access, and encouraging technocratic responses to particular negative externalities, such as promotion of disinformation. Ultimately, then, the DSA aims to enhance the functioning of existing economies of visibility, rather than more fundamentally reforming a social media market in which visibility is allocated based on commercial value.
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