Two Trusts and a Court: Adapting Legal Mechanisms for Building Trust in Technology Governance

Opeyemi Akanbi, Stephanie Hill


This article analyzes governance interventions designed by Facebook and Sidewalk Labs to address concerns about content governance and privacy, respectively. Using a comparative approach, we analyze how Sidewalk Lab’s proposed data trust for the Quayside Project—a smart city project in Toronto—and Facebook’s Oversight Board—an independent panel that makes content moderation decisions—are adapted from legal mechanisms that reflect what Luhmann describes as system trust. We also interrogate the use of intermediaries to shore up the trustworthiness of the companies with the public expert and lay publics. This article echoes existing research on the use of democratic models in attempts at technology governance strategies undertaken by companies and goes further to show how legal mechanisms of trusts and courts are being added to the repertoire of corporate tools for building trust.


trust, privacy, content moderation, strategic communication

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