Tools for Governance on Online Social Platforms (remote)

May 11, 2022, 3:30 PM - 4:15 PM


The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center

10 Livingston Avenue

New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Click here for map.

Amy Zhang, University of Washington

Content moderation on online social platforms is broken. As a result of their inability to moderate adequately, platforms have become host to all manner of undesirable content and behavior, from hate and harassment targeted at marginalized groups to the spread of misinformation that is harmful to society. In this talk, I argue that many of today’s content moderation systems fall short because they are operating from two flawed premises—that it is possible to come up with a single set of policies to enforce consistently across a large and diverse user base, and that users should have frictionless power to post and yet no responsibility towards (or power to shape) the collective governance of a social space. Instead, my research focuses on how to design the governance structures, processes, and tooling of online social platforms so that they empower users and communities to have greater agency and voice in governance. My contributions include: 1) new tools at the community level to support more powerful and flexible collective design and execution of policies, 2) new tools at the user level to support individuals with moderating what they personally see, and 3) reimagining processes at the platform level to legitimize platform-wide decisions.



Amy Zhang is an Assistant Professor at University of Washington's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, where she leads the Social Futures Lab, a lab dedicated to reimagining social and collaborative systems to empower people and improve society. She is a faculty member of the UW Center for an Informed Public, a visiting researcher at the Allen Institute for AI, and Belfer Fellow at the Anti-Defamation League. Prior to joining UW, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford CS, and completed her PhD at MIT CSAIL. During her PhD, she was an affiliate and 2018-19 Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University, a Google PhD Fellow, and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow.