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📄Research Article │ 🔍Refereed🔓Open Access

Regramming the Platform:
Infrastructural Relations Between Apps and Social Media

📂App Development on Social Media In this article, we empirically analyse the infrastructural relations between mobile apps and social media platforms and present a methodology to account for app–platform relations. Contrary to previous research on platforms and apps, we develop our approach from the perspective of apps based on a relational understanding of infrastructure. Our app-centric approach to platforms and infrastructure provides critical insights into (i) the kinds of third-party apps developed on the peripheries of social media platforms, (ii) the diverse practices and features supported and extended by those apps, and (iii) the messy and contingent nature of the relations between apps and social media platforms. Our approach provides insights into alternative forms of platform programmability beyond APIs and yields critical insights into social media-based ‘innovation’ app ecosystems driven by creative developer workarounds. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative forms of analysis of Android and iOS apps related to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, we explore how third-party apps engage with the specific ‘grammars of action’ of social media platforms and outline five distinct forms of regramming. With regramming, we refer to how app developers work with and around the affordances, action grammars, and constraints imposed by platforms for using their data and functionality. We conclude with conceptual and methodological reflections on the infrastructural relations between apps and social media platforms, app stores, and mobile platforms from the perspective of apps.

Note: This article is part of Apps and Infrastructures, a special issue of Computational Culture – A Journal of Software Studies guest-edited by C. Gerlitz, A. Helmond, D. B. Nieborg, and F. N. van der Vlist.

📋 ✍Cite

📋Cite (APA) Gerlitz, C., Helmond, A., van der Vlist, F. N., & Weltevrede, E. J. T. (2019). Regramming the Platform: Infrastructural Relations Between Apps and Social Media. In C. Gerlitz, A. Helmond, D. B. Nieborg, & F. N. van der Vlist (Eds.), Apps and Infrastructures (Special Issue), Computational Culture – A Journal of Software Studies, 7. Computational Culture.
🔗Link (URL)

Kind Special Journal Issue; Journal Article; Original Research Article
Author C. Gerlitz; A. Helmond; F. N. van der Vlist; E. J. T. Weltevrede
Designer F. N. van der Vlist
Publication Date 2019, October 21 [issue published]
Journal Computational Culture – A Journal of Software Studies
Issue 7
Section Apps and Infrastructures
Editor (Section) C. Gerlitz; A. Helmond; D. B. Nieborg; F. N. van der Vlist
Publisher Computational Culture (London, United Kingdom)
Identifier [self]; [part of]; 2047-2390 [part of]; 262513311 [funded by]; 275-45-009 [funded by]
License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Data Availability The data that support the findings of this study are openly available in the Open Science Framework (OSF) at


🖇Attached Name 🕓Date Modified ↧ Kind Access
Social Media-Related Android (Google Play) and iOS (iTunes Store) App Ecosystems 2022-04-15 🗄Research Data 🔓Open Access
App (Store) Policy Histories 2019-07 📝Web Report 🌍Public
📌 Multi-Situated App Studies 2019-06-06 📄 🔍Research Article 🔓Open Access
Apps and Their Stories 2019-01 📝Web Report 🌍Public
Store, Interface, Package, Connection 2018-08-30 📄Working Paper 🔓Open Access
App Stores and Their Bias 2018-07 📝Web Report 🌍Public
Apps and Infrastructures (Call for Abstracts) 2018-02-06 📢Call for Abstracts 🌍Public
Mapping Data-Intensive App Infrastructures 2018-01 📝Web Report 🌍Public
Methods Maps 2017-06 📝Web Report 🌍Public
App Stores as Data Infrastructure 2017-01 📝Web Report 🌍Public
App Support Ecologies 2016-12-08 📃 📊Conference Poster 🌍Public
App Studies (Conference Panel) 2016-10-31 📄 🔍Conference Proceeding 🔓Open Access
Mapping (Secure) Messaging App Ecologies 2016-07 📝Web Report 🌍Public
Digital Methods for Number Critique 2016-01 📝Web Report 🌍Public