January 26 Tuesday

ISP Law & Technology Speaker Series: Tarleton Gillespie

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 12:00PM - 1:00PM
  • Room 129
  • Open To The Public
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Censorship at scale: how social media platforms moderate public discourse

Troubling forms of online expression and activity are provoking difficult questions for social media platforms. While many platforms continue to celebrate themselves as open spaces for public participation, in fact they have always had to police inappropriate speech and anti-social behavior. I will discuss the types of challenges social media platforms face, the justifications they offer for their interventions, and some implications their responses present. As these platforms weigh possible responses – including removing content or users, limiting or blocking content from other users’ eyes, or defending content as protected speech - they revive and extend a century of questions about the role of private intermediaries in sorting out what should be made visible and what should be obscured. And, because these decisions must be enacted at an enormous scale, they may depend on a logic that is fundamentally orthogonal to how users experience them, as specific incidents and impositions.

Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, an adjunct associate professor in Cornell’s Communication Department, co-founder of the blog Culture Digitally, the author of Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture (MIT, 2007) and co-editor of Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society (MIT, 2014). And he is the co-founder of the blog Culture Digitally. He is currently preparing a book for Yale University Press on the rules imposed by platforms and their implications for free speech and public discourse.

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