THE GOVERNANCE OF FACEBOOK PLATFORM
Keywords:APIs, platform governance, Facebook, platform evolution, platform power
Competition authorities and regulators 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 paper 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 paper 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.