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Taming the Internet Trolls With an Internet Ombudsperson: Ethical Social Media Regulation

Journal article
Authors E. Daskal
Robert Wentrup
D. Shefet
Published in Policy and Internet
Volume 12
Issue 2
Pages 207-224
ISSN 1944-2866
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Business Administration
Pages 207-224
Language en
Keywords ombudsman, online content regulation, Internet governance, blockchain, human rights, ethics, social media, newspaper ombudsmen, Communication, Government & Law
Subject categories Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


Social media platforms have a powerful role as one of the main gatekeepers of the online sphere, alongside search engines and Internet service providers. Yet, given the variety of regulatory mechanisms, technological tools, and nonlegal ethical guidelines employed in regulating content on social media platforms, we argue that there is a need today for a consistent unified formal online content regulation structure. To address this issue, a number of European countries have suggested an old-new policy instrument-the Internet ombudsperson. This article, therefore, develops the concept, firstly by framing it as part of the evolution of the institution of the media ombudsperson. We then describe the theoretical and conceptual framework of Internet ombudsperson and propose future implementations including a traditional national (mainly offline) model as well as an international blockchain model. We conclude by discussing the merits and drawbacks of our proposal as well as its possible theoretical implications.

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