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Public Values in a Global Online Society

José van Dijck

Online digital platforms have penetrated every sector of American and Western-European societies, disrupting markets and labor relations, circumventing institutions, and transforming social and civic practices and affecting democratic processes.
The emerging ‘platform society’ involves an intense struggle between contesting societal actors—market, government and civil society—raising important questions like: Who is or should be responsible and accountable for anchoring public values in a platform society? This lecture concentrates on the Western platform ecosystem, driven by the Big 5 high-tech corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft). While fights over regulation play out at various local and national levels, they cannot be seen apart from the power clashes between global high-tech companies and (supra-)national governments. At the heart of the online industry’s surge is the battle over information control: who owns the data generated by online social activities? Particularly in the European context, governments can be proactive in negotiating public values on behalf of citizens and consumers.

José van Dijck is a distinguished university professor at the University of Utrecht and the president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Van Dijck’s academic discipline is media studies and her field of interests ‘digital society’. She received her PhD from the University of California, San Diego, (USA) in 1992. Her work covers a wide range of topics in media theory, media and communication technologies, social media, and digital culture. Her book The Culture of Connectivity. A Critical History of Social Media (2013) was distributed worldwide. Her new book, co-authored with Thomas Poell and Martijn de Waal is titled The Platform Society. Public values in a connective world; the Dutch version was published in November 2016 and the English book will be published in August 2018 with Oxford University Press.

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