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📄Working Paper │ 🔓Open Access

The Technicity of Platform Governance:
Structure and Evolution of Facebook’s APIs

🗂History and Evolution of Facebook Platform Researchers, policymakers, and competition and regulation authorities worldwide recognise application programming interfaces (APIs) for powering the digital economy and driving processes of datafication and platformisation. However, it is unclear how APIs tie into the power of, and governance by, large digital platforms. This article traces the relationality between Facebook’s APIs, platform governance, and data strategy based on an empirical and evolutionary analysis. It examines a large corpus of (archived) developer pages and API reference documentation to determine the technicity of platform governance – the technical dimension and dynamics of how and what platforms like Facebook seek to govern. It traces how Facebook Platform evolved into a complex layered and interconnected governance arrangement, wherein technical API specifications serve to enforce (changes to) platform policy and (data) strategy. Finally, the article discusses the significance of this technicity in specifying the material conditions for app and business development ‘on top of’ platforms and for maintaining infrastructural and evolutive power over their ecosystems.


📋Cite (APA) van der Vlist, F. N., Helmond, A., Burkhardt, M., & Seitz, T. (2021, July). The Technicity of Platform Governance: Structure and Evolution of Facebook’s APIs. In CRC ‘Media of Cooperation’ Working Paper Series No. 20. Siegen, DE: Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’, University of Siegen. DOI: 10.25819/ubsi/9951.
🔗Link (URL)

Kind Working Paper Series; Working Paper
Author F. N. van der Vlist; A. Helmond; M. Burkhardt; T. Seitz
Publication Date 2021, July 23
Journal CRC ‘Media of Cooperation’ Working Paper Series
Issue 20
Pages 1–25 (25)
Publisher Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’ (Siegen, Germany)
Identifier 10.25819/ubsi/9951 [self]; urn:nbn:de:hbz:467-19380 [self]; 2567-2509 [part of]; 2567-2517 [part of]; 262513311 [funded by]; 275-45-009 [funded by]; [funded by]
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

🖇Attached 🕓Date Modified ↧ Name Kind Access
2021-07-01 Platform and App Histories 📄 📗Book Section 🔒Closed
2020-10-05 The Evolution of Facebook’s Graph API 📄 🔍Conference Proceeding 🔓Open
2019-11-06 Social Media and Platform Historiography 📄 🔍Research Article 🔓Open
2019-05-01 Facebook’s Evolution 📄 🔍Research Article 🔓Open
2019-03-20 Historical Facebook Platform ‘Boundary Resources’, 2006–2018 🗄Research Data 🔓Open
2017-07-28 The Political Economy of Social Data 📄 🔍Conference Proceeding 🔒Closed