Holding the line: Corporate Social Responsibility and Digital Citizenship

Presented by Professor Lelia Green (Edith Cowan University)

Date: Monday 3 June, 2019
Time: 3:00pm-5:00pm
Location: Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37) 

Hosted as part of the “Platform Media: Algorithms, Accountability and Design” seminar series


In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and paralleling a growing discussion around the concept of Digital Citizenship, societies around the globe are engaging in new ways of imagining what corporate social responsibility should look like in the digital domain.

Crystallising the different sides of these debates are Julian Assange on the one hand and Jacinda Ardern on the other. What changes would platform media need to make to ‘take responsibility’ in the digital landscape? How might we imagine the future formation of corporate responsibility to enable a more constructive, pro-social engagement with information, data and knowledge that acknowledges the power of the platforms but holds them responsible for upholding the rights of individuals?

Whether it is the (now removed) ‘don’t be evil’ in Google’s Code of Conduct or Facebook’s mission ‘to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together’, the impact of these tech-giants and a number of other sites and applications has no previous parallel in human history. The harnessing of these capacities to create the Chinese Social Credit System, impacting almost 1.5 billion people by the time it is fully operational in 2020, beggars even the imagination of George Orwell.  Concerns around the commission of big data evils are paralleled by worries about the witholding of information from groups of people in democracies on the basis of algorithmic formulae.

Citizens and policy makers are in active discussions around identifying a forward-facing vision of how platforms can and should behave in terms of performing civic responsibility in supporting the best possible ideals for democratic engagement. This is the battle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of users currently being waged by the platforms themselves.

The debate on these matters is gathering momentum with each passing month, even without a clear idea as to how different players should embrace the possibilities canvassed. How might we inform a way forward that embodies the ideals of open society, civic responsibility, market autonomy and accountability under the rule of law? Is it possible to identify a new form of corporate social responsibility that will enable an enhanced vision for digital citizenship: benefitting individuals and the societies in which they live.


Lelia_GreenLelia Green is Professor of Communications in the School of Arts and Humanities at Edith Cowan University in Perth and is the author of Communication, Technology and Society (Sage, 2001); and The Internet: An Introduction to New Media (Berg, 2010). She is co-editor of the recent Media International Australia special issue on ‘Controlling Children’s Data’, and of Narratives in Research and Interventions on Cyberbullying Among Young People (Springer, 2019); Digitising Early Childhood (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2019); Framing Technology: Society, Choice and Change (Allen + Unwin, 1994) and The Routledge Companion to Digital Media and Children (forthcoming 2020).  Lelia has been a Chief Investigator on 6 Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grants and 7 ARC Linkage Projects.


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