Skip to Content

Community, Identity, Power, and Speech

CDT has launched a long-term focus on questions around the common theme is “Community” online. We seek to offer policy recommendations and best practices that will invigorate a greater sense of user engagement, empowerment, and membership in their chosen online communities. We will host and inform conversations on issues like news feeds and polarization, the personalized web, and the impact of web design and online architectures in fostering open and collaborative communities.

As we embark on this project, we have tried to distill “Community” to its core elements in order to better understand how different actors in the internet ecosystem shape the experience of users and groups. To that end, we have proposed four structural pieces, corresponding to widening conceptual layers of “Community” and evoking questions that will further our understanding and guide our work:

  • Power. How do structural and operational rules enable users to challenge or entrench traditional power structures and relationships online?
  • Identity. How do individuals use online spaces to create, explore, and define singular or multiple identities, in the context of the existing power relationships?
  • Speech. How do content-promotion and content-enforcement mechanisms decide which individuals are heard?
  • Community. How does a network of individual speakers come to understand itself as an online community?

These wide-ranging questions deserve our attention. On this page, we will feature all our thought and work related to the theme of “Community.” We welcome new ideas and new partners as we begin this work.