Digital platforms are web-based platforms or programs that have evolved in the digital era to provide online services, promote communication, and link various groups of users (Quiggin & Potts, 2009). These platforms provide consumers personalized experiences and services by integrating and analyzing massive amounts of data, typically enabling multidimensional interactions and transactions. Due to the usage of digital technology, digital platforms are highly linked and scalable, allowing them to instantly connect vast numbers of users and service providers for information exchange, business cooperation, and innovation. The significance of digital platforms in the economic and social sectors has grown in importance, propelling the growth of the digital economy and the digital transformation process.
People may now access and use a wide range of apps, services, and resources, such as e-commerce, online payments, the sharing economy, and social media, via the Internet and mobile devices, thanks to the emergence of digital platforms. Digital platforms provide new markets and innovation opportunities for consumers and businesses while changing how people live and work. Digital platforms are networked platforms built on digital technology to enable information flow, business transactions, and service supply by linking users and service providers.
The networking transformation has encouraged non-market innovations that have transformed traditional markets, allowing additional non-market sectors to develop in the networked information economy. It has improved access to knowledge and information in poor places, contributing to economic fairness and development (Popiel, 2018). Simultaneously, it causes alterations in social organization.
Monetary incentives are the primary mechanism of encouraging innovation and economic progress in the classic concept of economic growth. Various factors motivate non-market inventions, including benevolence, reputation, and curiosity (Benkler, 2006). According to Quiggin (2008), the growth of the Internet has enabled people and families to play a vital role in the non-market realm of digital economy innovation. It suggests a need to reconsider established economic policies and structures and give more support for creative undertakings. Simultaneously, the evolution of the Internet improves individuals’ ability to create and share information, offering new avenues for creating and distributing information and knowledge. It benefits economic development and innovation.
The Internet’s impact on digital literacy has established an online public sphere, expanding individuals’ freedom to participate and express their opinions. It has favorably influenced political freedom and freedom of expression, strengthening the conventional mass media’s grip on the political public sphere. Whereas digital literacy was once mostly connected with reading abilities, from conventional texts to many new types of texts on the Internet, there is now a more significant focus on the necessity of writing. Individuals may exchange information and connect with friends, family, and the rest of the world through blogs, social networks, and other user-generated content sites. It has transformed the Internet from a tool for obtaining information to a platform for generating and spreading knowledge. The Internet’s popularity and use have revolutionized social ties, allowing for more significant interaction and communication.
The influence of information creation and exchange on markets is addressed in the fundamental economics of the Internet in information production (Benkler, 2006). It demonstrates the proper constraints to market expansion, mainly information and information-based goods, tools, services, and capabilities(Terranova,2008). This shift signifies a significant movement in the direction of market economies and society during the last half-century. The influence of the Internet on property and public affairs has also been investigated in political economics. Internet technology is difficult to regulate; it raises expenses and reduces the efficacy of information control. Although the Internet has improved information freedom, some governments continue to regulate information by blocking Internet access and monitoring the flow of information.
Furthermore, the Internet has influenced the public realm regarding political economics. The Internet provides instruments for socially constructive behaviors, and Internet tools encourage socially productive practices. The primary impact of the Internet in the public domain is not the technologies themselves but the socially constructive actions they enable. The Internet helps to create an open and participatory public realm. According to neoclassical economics, digital platforms can drive economic growth by creating new goods and services and realizing efficiency benefits in production and distribution (Mansell & Steinmueller, 2020).
Neoclassical economics considers market competition the most effective behavior regulator, although intervention is sometimes permitted, mainly when the competitive response is insufficient or impeded by collusion. When a company has market power, it may establish its pricing or enforce obligations on its suppliers or consumers without fear of competition.
However, institutional economics and critical political economy examine the influence of digital platforms on public values and power relations in ways that neoclassical economics does not. They focus on power asymmetries in the digital platform market and the harm done to public values by the data mining process, and they propose potential normative and legislative changes.
The institutional economics study focuses on how digital platforms alter the boundaries between private and public interests in society, emphasizing the importance of norms and regulations in defining the allocation of economic and public value (Suzor, 2019). Institutional economics is mainly concerned with the influence of digital platforms on the information environment, namely their control over content organization and the bias of people’s access to information. Critical political economics analysis sees digital platforms as the fulfillment of minority interests, the exploitation of non-owners, and the growth of particular laws and norms through capital control (Suzor, 2019). Critical political economics highlights the platforms’ ownership of data and management of labor relations, as well as the influence of finance capital’s repressive power on the operation of digital platforms. Despite their different analytical perspectives, institutional economics and critical political economy agree that digital platforms have significant implications for public values and power relations and that regulation and changes to platform operations must be considered to protect the public interest.
Internet intermediaries wield enormous power over individuals, affecting how people connect, the content of visible communications, what is deleted or concealed, with whom people may communicate, and how widely their voices are heard. They mediate individual disagreements and punish them by prohibiting them from contacting friends, family, and listeners. However, the actions of intermediaries are impacted by market forces and societal pressures from governments worldwide, users, the media, civil society organizations, and the general public. Governments, corporations, and civil society organizations are increasing pressure on technology companies to control internet material better. Nonetheless, one should be mindful of imposing additional content regulation responsibilities on intermediaries that diminish competition, impede innovation, or unreasonably restrict individual users’ freedom of speech—government initiatives to restrict Internet content and Internet business rules on information flow. The decentralized structure of the Internet makes government censorship more difficult for governments, but governments are becoming increasingly adept at monitoring and controlling the flow of information online. China is presented as an example of successful censorship implementation by censoring items considered inappropriate and restricting access to external information (Suzor, 2019). For example, TikTok is a short video exchange platform built in China for nations other than China. In China, TikTok is known as douyin. TikTok and Douyin have varied criteria for viewers of various ages. One of the most prominent regulations is that Douyin has a teen model. When this mode is enabled, it automatically eliminates sexually explicit or violent movies for people under the age of 18. Other contrasts are also discussed in the video.
Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks : how social production transforms markets and freedom. Yale University Press. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/lib/usyd/detail.action?pq-origsite=primo&docID=3419996
Mansell, R., & Steinmueller, W. E. (2020). Economic analysis of platforms. In Advanced Introduction to Platform Economics. Edward Elgar Publishing Limited. https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/lib/usyd/detail.action?docID=6317825.
Popiel, P. (2018). The tech lobby: Tracing the contours of new media elite lobbying power. Communication, Culture & Critique, 11(4), 566–585. https://doi.org/10.1093/ccc/tcy027.
Quiggin J, & Potts J. (2008). Economics of Non-market Innovation and Digital Literacy. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture & Policy, 128, 144–150. https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/doi/epdf/10.1177/1329878X0812800118.
Suzor, N. P. (2019). Lawless : the secret rules that govern our digital lives. Cambridge University Press. https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/lawless/8504E4EC8A74E539D701A04D3EE8D8DE.
Terranova, T. (2009). Another Life: The Nature of Political Economy in Foucault’s Genealogy of Biopolitics. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(6), 234–262. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276409352193.