An analysis of how fringe platform Gab.com relates to the process of platformization
Wilde de Ligny, Sofie de
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This study analyzes how we can understand the development of fringe platforms in relation to the process of platformization. Platformization refers to the dynamic between platforms rather than a platform as an object. This dynamic happens in a platform ecosystem, representing a corporate space in the Western hemisphere dominated most notably by the Big Five tech companies. Fringe platform Gab.com opposes this dynamic and strives for independence. Multiple authors have investigated the concept of platformization in recent years. Since these authors have focused on mainstream or regular platforms, it is currently unknown how fringe platforms such as Gab relate to the process of platformization. This study bridges this gap by conducting a Platform Infrastructure Analysis. Based on the institutional and technological analysis, this study reveals the theoretical implications of the concept of platformization, as it appears that fringe platforms do not belong within the characterization of the theoretical understanding of the concept. Despite these theoretical implications, this study identifies that despite the desire of Gab to be separated from the Big five tech companies, the mainstream and fringe platforms will still be part of the same online dynamic in the platform ecosystem. Furthermore, following the technological development of Gab, I claim that Gab is slowly but surely penetrating the roots of digital infrastructures. Further research is needed to update and broaden the theoretical understanding of platformization because the theory is not comprehensive at this point.