The global public sphere is increasingly uniform. High concentration in social media ownership means that only a few companies decide which rules govern the mainstream channels of global communications. Elites in California spread their social norms across languages and cultures through their global content moderation policies. The legal regimes of some states have ripple effects over less powerful jurisdictions.
Scholars disagree about the extent to which this is a problem, and even more about its potential solutions. Not everyone agrees that decentralizing economic, cultural, or legal influence over the digital public sphere is feasible, or even desirable. And scholars who consider the concentration of economic power and influence worrisome disagree about how to deal with it.
In the Spring of 2023, we partnered with the Yale Journal of Law & Technology to invite scholars worldwide to discuss Uniformity and Fragmentation in the Digital Public Sphere.
Kendra Albert walks through the history of the “community” in obscenity’s community standards doctrine, arguing that the Supreme Court’s debates and disagreements about how to regulate speech in that context presage more modern debates over content moderation online.
Julie Cohen interrogates current debates about content governance for the digital public sphere through the lens of infrastructure, exploring the ways that digital tracking and advertising infrastructures perform systemic content governance functions.
Amanda Levendowski, Eun Hee Han, and Jonah Perlin explore teaching students to edit Wikipedia as an alternative to problematic data cartels. Their piece discusses how their proposal integrates students' legal practice skills and instills an ethical obligation to serve the public.
Ayesha Rasheed argues that state social media laws such as the recently passed content moderation bans in Texas and Florida violate the Dormant Commerce Clause.
Alexander Somek and Elisabeth Paar attempt to illuminate the importance of European Constitutional Law in mutually stabilizing liberal democracies and what role digital mediums such as Twitter and the Verfassungsblog have played in shaping this field.
Gunther Teubner and Anna Beckers discuss uniformity and fragmentation of liability regimes for algorithmic misconduct and propose a fragmented liability regime that responds to three evolving socio-digital institutions: digital assistance, hybridity and interconnectivity.