Reining in the global freelance labor force: how global digital labor platforms change from facilitators into arbitrators

This article is part of the publication "The Future of Work in the Global South"

Global digital labor platforms – digital venues via which electronically transmittable service work is traded – are rapidly coming of age. Platforms like Freelancer and Upwork now boast several dozens of millions registered users and facilitate millions of job transactions per year, the result of roughly a decade of exponential growth. Equally telling, perhaps even more so, is that over time, work via such platforms has gradually become more regulated. In their early years, global digital labor platforms offered buyers and sellers of freelance labor a place to deal with each other, but they largely refrained from specifying or enforcing any rules of engagement.