The A-SPARC model of online platforms

Published: 13 October 2021
Last updated: 16 March 2023

Understanding user and content journeys as consumers access services on online platforms is crucial for a clear and consistent regulation of relevant aspects of the platforms. In early September 2020, Ofcom commissioned PA Consulting to deliver a project to model the functional and architectural structures, workflows and evolution of online platforms. This model (named A-SPARC) will help Ofcom by providing a consistent view of the structure of online platforms and language describing their functionality.

The model (generic) was developed through a combination of desk research and interviews with key employees of several platforms that host user generated content (UGC). Primarily, the model would support internal work in Ofcom, but we believe that aspects of the work might be more widely usable because it provides, amongst other benefits, an industry validated reference for internal and external engagements about online platform user and content journeys.

Today, we publish a redacted version of the model which excludes all confidential and sensitive information collected during interviews with the platforms.

Read the report

The A-SPARC model of online platforms (PDF, 314.9 KB)

A-SPARC framework (Illustrative guide) (PDF, 1.1 MB)

Back to top