Pandemic platform governance: mapping the global ecosystem of COVID-19 response apps

Dieter, Michael; Helmond, Anne; Tkacz, Nathaniel; van der Vlist, Fernando and Weltevrede, Esther. 2021. Pandemic platform governance: mapping the global ecosystem of COVID-19 response apps. Internet Policy Review: journal on internet regulation, 10(3), ISSN 2197-6775 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article provides an exploratory systematic mapping of the global ecosystem of COVID-19 pandemic response apps. After considering policy updates by Google Play’s and Apple’s App Store, we analyse all the available response apps in July 2020; their different response types; the apps’ developers and geographical distribution; the ecosystem’s ‘generativity’ and developers’ responsiveness during the unfolding pandemic; the apps’ discursive positioning; and material conditions of their development. Google and Apple are gatekeepers of these app ecosystems and exercise control on different layers, shaping the pandemic app response as well as the relationships between governments, citizens, and other actors. We suggest that this global ecosystem of pandemic responses reflects an exceptional mode of what we call ‘pandemic platform governance’, where platforms have negotiated their commercial interests and the public interest in exceptional circumstances.

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Additional Information:

Funding: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), grant number ES/V004905/1 (‘COVID-19 App Store and Data Flow Ecologies’), the Dutch Research Council (NWO), grant numbers 275-45-009 and VI.Veni.191C.048; and the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), project number 262513311 (SFB 1187: ‘Media of Cooperation’).


App Store, Platform governance, covid-19, App studies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


23 June 2021Accepted
6 August 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

26 Sep 2023 15:22

Last Modified:

26 Sep 2023 15:28

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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