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Tackling online inequality: Making digital platforms work for inclusive development

As they become an essential part of the digital experience, online platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Uber, AirBnB, and Twitter are having a direct bearing on social inclusion and opportunity in many spheres of life for people around the world.
At their best, platforms can encourage information sharing, trading, and innovation. But they can also reinforce racial and gender biases and deepen social cleavages. For instance, a Harvard study of the North American context demonstrated that users of AirBnB in five U.S. cities with “distinctively African-American names” are about 16% less likely to be accepted by hosts than users with “white-sounding” names. In another study of online-contracting platforms in Latin America, it was found that globally, women are underrepresented two to one on the platform, and overall tend to bid lower than men.

There is a need to understand how platforms are shaping (and disrupting) work, learning, communication, and engagement, as well as their parallel impact on inclusion, equity, and power in the global South. However, regulatory regimes in developing countries are barely prepared to address the complexities of platform governance.
This project will study platforms in ten local and/or national contexts in the global South. The research will unpack how platforms affect economic and political inclusion and exclusion, knowledge generation, and gender relations. The project will develop ten use-cases of web- and mobile-based platforms and examine the policy implications for governance, freedom of expression, access to data and content, competition, economic opportunity, social progress, and innovation. The research methodology will combine state­of­play mapping of complex domains, systematic evidence from case studies and policy dialogues, and will contribute to shaping policies governing online platforms. Building a network of thought leaders who can strategically influence emerging policy areas in developing countries, the research will outline principles for more equitable and inclusive governance of online platforms in different contexts in the global South.

IT for Change in Bangalore, leveraging its strong presence in global technology and development policy debates, will oversee the research.

Project ID
108339
Project Status
Completed
End Date
Duration
24 months
IDRC Officer
Phet Sayo
Total Funding
CA$ 433,400.00
Location
Argentina
Brazil
China
Philippines
Programs
Networked Economies
Networked Economies
Institution Country
Belgium
Project Leader
Alain Strowel
Institution
Université Catholique de Louvain
Institution Country
Argentina
Project Leader
Alejandro Artopoulos
Institution
Fundación Universidad de San Andrés
Institution Country
India
Project Leader
Anita Gurumurthy
Institution
(name of President/Secretary) on behalf of IT for Change
Institution Country
United Kingdom
Project Leader
Arne Hintz
Institution
Cardiff University
Institution Country
Brazil
Project Leader
Francisco Carvalho de Brito Cruz
Institution
Associação INTERNETLAB de Pesquisa em Direito e Tecnologia
Institution Country
United Kingdom
Project Leader
Julie Chen
Institution
University of Leicester
Institution Country
Canada
Project Leader
Katherine reilly
Institution
Simon Fraser University
Institution Country
Philippines
Project Leader
Liza S. Garcia
Institution
Foundation for Media Alternatives, Inc.

Outputs

Report

Policy frameworks for digital platforms : moving from openness to inclusion : mapping Rioplatense platform economy : the case of mercado libre in Uruguay and Argentina final technical report