The Emulation Paradox in Digital Constitutionalism

Innovation in governance follows a leitmotif: emulation. In platform governance, emulating traditional institutions like a ‘Supreme Court’ and notions like ‘constitutionalism’, ‘rights’, or the ‘rule of law’ became a central discursive fixture. Taking a socio-legal and comparative approach, this paper highlights and criticizes the role of emulation in current practical developments and scholarly discourses known as ‘digital constitutionalism’. By examining the DSA and Meta’s Oversight Board through the prism of emulation, the contribution points to digital constitutionalism’s emulation paradox: Can and should we capitalize on emulation as a method to learn from established and legitimate practices how to improve platform governance? And how do we prevent the misuse of emulation as mere piggybanking on the legitimizing guise of traditional concepts, procedures, and institutions?