Regulating the New Information Intermediaries as Gatekeepers of Information Diversity
Info, VOL. 17 NO. 6, 2015, pp. 50-71
Posted: 8 Feb 2016
Date Written: June 6, 2015
Search engines, social networks and app-stores are often referred to as gatekeepers to diverse information access. But what is the evidence to substantiate these gatekeeper concerns, and to what extent are existing regulatory solutions to control gatekeeper control suitable at all to address new diversity concerns? This contribution maps the different gatekeeper concerns about media diversity as evidenced in existing research. Before the background of network gate keeping theory it critically analyses some of the currently discussed regulatory approaches and develops the contours of a more user-centric approach towards approaching gatekeeper control and media diversity.
This multi-disciplinary paper ﬁnds that when looking at search engines, social networks and app stores, many concerns about the inﬂuence of the new information intermediaries on media diversity have not so much their source in the control over critical resources or access to information, as the traditional gatekeepers do. Instead, the real bottleneck is access to the user, and the way the relationship between social network, search engine or app platforms and users is given form. Based on this observation, the paper concludes that regulatory initiatives in this area would need to pay more attention to the dynamic relationship between gatekeeper and gated, and makes concrete suggestions to this end.
Keywords: search engines, social networks, media diversity, gatekeeper, evidence, regulation
JEL Classification: K39, O39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation