Jan Sandhouse Hurst
When they don’t come with trains, I think of platforms as distribution systems — how you get something from A to B, at least in the internet space. Social media platforms move information from A to B. Other platforms host membership sites and facilitate the movement of info from A to B. Other platforms move products from seller to buyer.
But, Susan, you are also right. In politics platforms are positions on issues. So platform is one of those terms that must be defined in context.
In my former life, I had a similar problem with the term “performance guarantee.” It could mean either “performance by a product” that was being purchased, or it could mean “performance of the contract terms in their entirety.” When businesses didn’t ask which definition applied, they often got in trouble. If you are concerned about being misinterpreted, simply define your use of the term.