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"Networked Intimacies: Social Media Policies and Regulation on Adult Content." W. Michaelsen. D. McMenemy. Department of Computer and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 2019. Download PDF (BibTeX) ILS

This dissertation is an extended literature survey and critical discourse analysis of social media policies about adult content. It examines how and by whom adult content is regulated using Lessig’s framework and the methods of critical discourse analysis. I focussed on what I consider to be the major social media platforms in the English-language world: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube. I chose these specifically because of their size and relevance to the daily life of the average person. Lessig introduced the four modalities of Internet regulation in his 2000 book, Code is Law: norms, laws, architecture, and the market. I will define each one to be relevant to my purposes. Then I will use the four to structure my analysis and categorise the social media policies by which modes they are exemplifying. Sometimes the modes come into conflict with each other in ways that will be analytically useful. Norms are the ways communities self-regulate, through established acceptable behaviours. These can be explicit or implicit, and can be inflicted externally and adopted by the community, or built from the ground up within the community. Norms can change over time, and conflict results from not knowing or disregarding the norms, or when individual communities interact and try to reconcile their divergent norms. Laws regulate the Internet by threatening consequences for undesirable behaviour, on the part of Internet users and its architects. Architecture is all the ways the Internet is constructed, and the affordances of those design and code decisions. Its regulation can often be unseen, but architecture shapes the very spaces we enter online, let alone the conversations we have once we are there. The market inflicts regulation because social media companies exist as profit-driven ventures within capitalism. Critical discourse analysis is the examination of the ways language reflects and reinforces social organisation. Critical discourse analysis will be used to examine if and how adult content policies (re)produce societal restrictions on women, LGBTQIA people, people of colour, and sex workers. By controlling the ways in which marginalised people can speak online, their marginalisation is maintained.