Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
Governance: Managing Digital Creation
Thursday, 03/Nov/2022:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Tugce Bidav
Location: EQ-211

100 seat horseshoe

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An angel for online influencers? The role of MCN in creative labor on Chinese platforms

Yujia Zhai, Fan Liang, Leiyuan Tian

Duke Kunshan University, China, People's Republic of

This study examines the role of MCN (multi-channel network) in China’s Wanghong (i.e., influencers) economy and its impact on influencers’ content creation and monetization practices. Previous research has highlighted influencers’ dependence on digital platforms for production and commercialization. However, little attention has been paid to MCN, which incubates influencers on an industrial scale and mediates the relationship among influencers, platforms, brands, and users. Based on online observations, documentation analysis, and interviews with MCN employees and signed influencers, we first draw upon the concept of “new screen ecology” to explore the interdependent relationship in a multi-sided market that MCN addresses, and then approach influencers’ position in the industry under the frame of “creative labor.” We find that MCN enhances the efficiency of the industry value chain, by accelerating the growth of a large number of influencers and connecting them to various advertisers and platforms attracted by their ability to gather and monetize traffic.

However, contrary to the optimistic discourse or MCN’s promises of the empowerment of individual influencers through the sources it provides, the autonomy of these “aspirational creative labor” might indeed be compromised. A new “MCN-dependence” could develop through this new employer-labor relationship, alienating influencers from their content production and threatening their income in another layer. Consequently, the resistance of influencers can be observed through their sometimes-fierce bargaining with MCN over terms of contracts, as well as negotiations over resources allocation and account management in the practical working process afterward.

Mass reporting in the creator economy: Enacting and contesting platform governance

Colten Meisner, Brooke Erin Duffy

Cornell University, United States of America

This study analyzes the practice of “mass reporting,” or the automated generation of content violation reports deployed against social media creators by technically skilled users. We examine the wider social context in which mass reporting—and other forms of collective, user-enacted governance—can be understood as both a response to the shortcomings of platform governance, while also representing a form of lateral governance itself. Drawing on an analysis of platforms’ community guidelines and 15 in-depth interviews with social media creators, we explore the relationship between the publicly communicated structures of platform governance (i.e., the rules organizing platform discourse) and the agency of users and creators within platform communities to reify, resist, or rework the governance structure. Our participants understood the practice of mass reporting as functionally ambivalent; mass reporting was seen as a technological strategy that could be applied to positive or negative ends, depending on the user’s intentions. The resulting view of contested platform governance is dynamic and participatory, yet simultaneously unequal and highly stratified.


Vincent Adakole Obia

Birmingham City University, United Kingdom

This paper considers the relation of dependence that defines the practice of social media and internet content regulation in an African context. With social media regulation in Nigeria as a case study, it gives attention to debates drawn from postcolonial thinking, structural imperialism, and platform power, presenting new research on the concept of the matrix of dependence. To do this, I gather data by interviewing 19 stakeholders on what they perceive as credible alternatives to social media regulation in Nigeria, given their opposition to the proposed formal approach represented by the 2019 Internet Falsehood Bill. Analysis was done using Braun and Clarke’s (2021) reflexive thematic analysis. Findings point to four alternatives/themes: copying Western nations, platform self-regulation, governance built on trust, and digital media literacy. I expand on these findings to show that underlying each suggested alternative is the notion of subalternity under which Nigeria functions as it pertains to new media governance. I further argue that this construct can be applied to the wider African continent, suggesting that postcolonialism shapes the use and regulation of new media technologies in what can be understood as the matrix of dependence.

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