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The Sunday Show
68 minutes | Nov 28, 2021
Information Disorder and Who Profits From It
Today, we’ve got two conversations about the problem of mis- and disinformation.In the first segment, Courtney Radsch, a Tech Policy Press contributor and board member, speaks with Vivian Schiller, Executive Director of Aspen Digital, a part of the Aspen Institute that just released the final report of the Commission on Information Disorder. And in the second segment, Justin Hendrix speaks with Karen Hao, senior AI editor at MIT Technology Review about her year reporting on how the business model of social media platforms incentivizes the deterioration of information ecosystems.
82 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
Platform Integrity, Platform Democracy
Today, we’ve got two separate but related conversations about social media and how it intersects with democracy and society.In the first segment, we’re going to hear from Jeff Allen and Sahar Massachi, two former Facebook employees who are the founders of the Integrity Institute, a new nonprofit organization. They believe one solution to the problems on social media is the development of a community of integrity professionals with experience at a variety of social media platforms that can come together to address problems and share best practices together.Then, we’re going to look under the hood of some fresh ideas about how to democratize policymaking on social media platforms from Aviv Ovadya, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and author of a proposal titled "Towards Platform Democracy: Policymaking Beyond Corporate CEOs and Partisan Pressure." To help evaluate Aviv's ideas, I'm also joined by Joe Bak-Coleman, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public, and Renée DiResta, technical research manager at Stanford Internet Observatory.
55 minutes | Nov 14, 2021
The Tech Worker Handbook & the Filter Bubble Transparency Act
There are two segments in this week's show:First- Ifeoma Ozoma is the Founder and Principal of Earthseed, a consulting firm advising individuals, organizations, and companies on tech accountability, public policy and health misinformation. A tech policy expert, Ifeoma is a co-sponsor of the Silenced No More Act. The legislation, authored by CA State Senator Connie Leyva and recently signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom, allows everyone in California to share information about discrimination or harassment they have faced on the job, even after signing an NDA. Ifeoma led an initiative to provide tech whistleblowers with needed resources called the Tech Worker Handbook, and is now leading a project to scale the protections in the Silenced No More Act to more companies and workers via shareholder activism.Second- this week, the Filter Bubble Transparency Act was unveiled in the House of Representatives. The proposed legislation would require “require that internet platforms give users the option to engage with a platform without being manipulated by algorithms driven by user-specific data.” To explore the ideas behind the proposed legislation, I spoke to two people: Anil Dash, CEO of Glitch and an entrepreneur and writer; and Eli Pariser, Co-Director of New Public, an activist, an entrepreneur and author of the 2011 bestseller The Filter Bubble.
77 minutes | Nov 7, 2021
Holding Big Tech Accountable for Disinformation and Incitement to Violence
The first segment in this episode is a conversation with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat representing Illinois’ 9th district. Representative Schakowsky serves as Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has called the tech CEOs to testify in recent months and introduced proposed legislation. The second is a discussion on the threat of big tech and disinformation to social movements that took place recently at NetRootsNation, conference for progressive organizers. It is hosted by Melissa Ryan, a Tech Policy Press masthead member and author of the Ctrl Alt-Right Delete, a newsletter that covers extremism that has grown to more than 15,000 weekly readers. Melissa uses her expertise to help people, policymakers and institutions combat online extremism and toxicity as the CEO of her firm, CARD Strategies. At NetRoots Nation, Melissa organized a panel of activists to discuss how platform power and disinformation affected their communities in 2020, and how they plan to fight it in 2021 and beyond. They include Bridget Todd, who drives feminist cultural & political change at UltraViolet; Brennan Suen, a senior strategist at Media Matters, which tracks right wing disinformation; and Michael Khoo, the Co-chair of the Climate Disinformation Coalition at Friends of the Earth and CO-CEO of Upshift strategies.
50 minutes | Oct 31, 2021
A Conversation with the Oversight Board's John Samples & Julie Owono
This is Part 3 of three special episodes focused on Facebook in the wake of the revelations in what has come to be known as the Facebook Papers, reports based on a trove of documents brought forward by whistleblower Frances Haugen. On Thursday- the same day Facebook announced its name change to Meta- Tech Policy Press had the chance to speak with two members of the Oversight Board, the entity the company set up to provide external oversight to its content moderation decisions and to help it make policy. John Samples and Julie Owono- two Oversight Board members who have a deep expertise in questions of internet governance, tech policy, human rights and free expression- spoke to Tech Policy Press editor Justin Hendrix and contributor and board member Courtney Radsch about the Oversight Board's recent transparency report, and the role of the Oversight Board in the post-whistleblower period.
44 minutes | Oct 29, 2021
The Facebook Papers: Conversations with Jeff Horwitz and Dia Kayyali
This is Part 2 of four special episodes focused on the revelations in what has come to be known as the Facebook papers, reports based on a trove of documents brought forward by whistleblower Frances Haugen. In the first part, we heard from the Executive Editor of The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance, who wrote about the challenge Facebook poses to democracy. In this episode, I had a chance to catch up with two people- first, Jeff Horwitz, a technology reporter at the Wall Street Journal and one of the leaders of the team reporting on the documents first brought forward by the Journal. And, I spoke to Dia Kayyali, the associate director for advocacy at Mnemonic, for reactions to the revelations in the whistleblower documents, and a point of view on what it means for the Oversight Board, the entity the company set up to provide external oversight to its content moderation decisions and to help it make policy.
31 minutes | Oct 27, 2021
The Facebook Papers: A Conversation with Adrienne LaFrance
This week’s revelations in what has come to be known as the Facebook papers- reports based on a trove of documents brought forward by whistleblower Frances Haugen- are keeping Facebook and its senior executives at the top of news feeds around the world. In the avalanche of coverage, one particular piece stood out to me-one written by Adrienne LaFrance, executive editor of The Atlantic, and a writer and observer that I regard has having a keen insight into issues at the intersection of technology and democracy. The piece is titled ‘HISTORY WILL NOT JUDGE US KINDLY’: Thousands of pages of internal documents offer the clearest picture yet of how Facebook endangers American democracy—and show that the company’s own employees know it. Tech Policy Press had the opportunity to speak with her about the piece and pose additional questions about the company and its response to these leaks.
44 minutes | Oct 24, 2021
The Perils of Amazon Ring
Earlier this month, Evan Selinger, a professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, published a paper with co-author Darrin Durant in the journal Science as Culture titled Amazon’s Ring: Surveillance as a Slippery Slope. Last month, a must-read profile of Chris Gilliard by Will Oremus for The Washington Post also started out with concerns about Ring, before detailing Gilliard’s perspective and background. I invited Evan and Chris to join me to discuss their writings on Ring, and how it fits into their broader views on tech and society.
79 minutes | Oct 17, 2021
Seeing Inside the Algorithms
This is a two part show- first, a discussion about how to make sure independent researchers have access to the data from technology platforms; and second, a book talk with the author of How Algorithms Create and Prevent Fake News: Exploring the Impacts of Social Media, Deepfakes, GPT-3 and More.In the wake of the revelations brought forward by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, there is a great deal of focus among lawmakers and regulators in many capitals to figure out how to see inside the platforms. Last week, Nathaniel Persily, a professor of law at Stanford Law School and co-director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, put forward a draft of potential legislation, announcing what he calls the "Platform Transparency and Accountability Act" in a Washington Post column.We took the opportunity to invite Nate and two other experts on this subject- Rebekah Tromble, Director of the Institute for Data, Democracy & Politics and Associate Professor at George Washington University, and Brandie Nonnecke, the Director of the Citris Policy Lab at UC Berkeley and a fellow at the Harvard Carr Center for Human Rights Policy- to talk about how best to get researchers access to the vast troves of data the platforms hold on us. Noah Giansiracusa is a mathematician and data scientist who is Assistant Professor at Bentley University near Boston. Most of his papers are on things like algebraic geometry or machine learning. But recently, he wrote a book that looks at how algorithms are shaping our understanding of the world on social media. The book is called, How Algorithms Create and Prevent Fake News: Exploring the Impacts of Social Media, Deepfakes, GPT-3 and More. We spoke to Noah about the challenges of our algorithmically driven information environment, and whether AI might help us fix it.
35 minutes | Oct 16, 2021
Reconciling Social Media & Democracy, Part 5: Ramesh Srinivasan
On October 7th, Tech Policy Press hosted a mini-conference, Reconciling Social Media and Democracy. While various solutions to problems at the intersection of social media and democracy are under consideration, from regulation to antitrust action, some experts are enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a new social media ecosystem that relies less on centrally managed platforms like Facebook and more on decentralized, interoperable services and components. This fifth features Dr. Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor in the UCLA Department of Information Studies, and Director of UC Digital Cultures Lab, who with Dipayan Ghosh was the author of the article Reining in Big Tech in the Journal of Democracy series on the future of platform power that served as the basis for some of the discussion at the event. At the end of the session, you will hear Dr. Nathalie Maréchal and Richard Reisman, two participants in the first session of the day, offer thoughts in reply, along with Bryan Jones, who is chairman and cofounder of Tech Policy Press.
49 minutes | Oct 16, 2021
Reconciling Social Media & Democracy, Part 4: Tracy Chou and Mike Masnick
On October 7th, Tech Policy Press hosted a mini-conference called Reconciling Social Media and Democracy. While various solutions to problems at the intersection of social media and democracy are under consideration, from regulation to antitrust action, some experts are enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a new social media ecosystem that relies less on centrally managed platforms like Facebook and more on decentralized, interoperable services and components. The fourth segment of the event focused on the opportunities and challenges to building middleware solutions that may thrive in a more decentralized social media ecosystem. The two panelists for this session were Tracy Chou, founder and CEO of Block Party, a company that builds anti-harassment tools against online abuse, and Michael Masnick, the editor of Techdirt and the author of Protocols, Not Platforms: A Technological Approach to Free Speech, a paper we discussed during the event.
30 minutes | Oct 16, 2021
Reconciling Social Media & Democracy, Part 3: Cory Doctorow
On October 7th, Tech Policy Press hosted a mini-conference called Reconciling Social Media and Democracy. While various solutions to problems at the intersection of social media and democracy are under consideration, from regulation to antitrust action, some experts are enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a new social media ecosystem that relies less on centrally managed platforms like Facebook and more on decentralized, interoperable services and components. The third segment features Cory Doctorow on the topic of competitive compatibility.
31 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Reconciling Social Media & Democracy, Part 2: Joan Donovan & Robert Faris
On October 7th, Tech Policy Press hosted a mini-conference called Reconciling Social Media and Democracy.While various solutions to problems at the intersection of social media and democracy are under consideration, from regulation to antitrust action, some experts are enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a new social media ecosystem that relies less on centrally managed platforms like Facebook and more on decentralized, interoperable services and components. The first discussion at the event took on the notion of ‘middleware’ for content moderation, and featured Francis Fukuyama, Nathalie Marechal, Daphne Keller and Richard Reisman.This second session focuses on ideas put forward by Joan Donovan and Robert Faris, researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, in a Journal of Democracy article titled Quaranting Misinformation that is itself a response and critique of the idea of decentralization and middleware.
88 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Reconciling Social Media & Democracy, Part 1: Fukuyama, Keller, Maréchal and Reisman
On October 7th, Tech Policy Press hosted a mini-conference called Reconciling Social Media and Democracy.While various solutions to problems at the intersection of social media and democracy are under consideration, from regulation to antitrust action, some experts are enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a new social media ecosystem that relies less on centrally managed platforms like Facebook and more on decentralized, interoperable services and components. The first discussion at the event took on the notion of ‘middleware’ for content moderation, and featured:Dr. Francis Fukuyama, Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), Mosbacher Director of FSI's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, and Director of Stanford's Ford Dorsey Master's in International Policy. Dr. Nathalie Maréchal, a writer, researcher and activist working at the intersection of internet policy and human rights advocacy who is Senior Policy & Partnerships Manager at Ranking Digital Rights, a non-profit research initiative housed at New America’s Open Technology Institute.Daphne Keller, who directs the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center and is a Lecturer at Stanford Law School;And Richard Reisman, an entrepreneur, investor and writer, including at Tech Policy Press, where he has written about decentralizing social media.
38 minutes | Oct 10, 2021
Resisting Corporate Surveillance
The United Nations General Assembly just took place in New York. We get a report on it from Maya Plentz, who covers technology and innovation at the United Nations and its agencies, for The UN Brief, a subscription-based news platform.Then, we’re going to hear from Ari Ezra Waldman, a lawyer and sociologist, and Professor of Law and Computer Science at Northeastern University. He’s the author of Industry Unbound: The Inside Story of Privacy, Data, and Corporate Power.
34 minutes | Oct 4, 2021
A Whistleblower, Facebook, Social Media & Polarization
The relationship between Facebook and political polarization is in the spotlight. Frances Haugen, the whistleblower that took documents to the Wall Street Journal, Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission, appeared on CBS 60 Minutes Sunday night. “The version of Facebook that exists today is tearing our societies apart and causing ethnic violence around the world," she said.Yet Facebook executives such as Nick Clegg and Mark Zuckerberg take pains to disavow the connection between social media and polarization, and in particular to extreme events such as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.To take a step back from the whistleblower news cycle, I spoke to one academic researcher who has looked at the available evidence in great detail. After conducting an analysis of nearly 100 social science studies that look at the connections between media, social media and political polarization, researcher Emily Kubin has some things to say on the subject- she joins the Tech Policy Press podcast to describe her work.
58 minutes | Oct 3, 2021
Facebook, Instagram and Young People's Well-Being
Most Tech Policy Press podcast listeners will by now be well familiar with the Facebook Files, a series of Wall Street Journal articles revealing internal research and information from Facebook that show the company aware of a variety of serious problems on its platforms that affect people’s lives and our politics. This week, Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Head of Safety, was brought before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security to discuss the revelations in the data about Instagram’s effects on children and teens, and in particular their mental health. Just before the hearing, the Wall Street Journal published the documents it reviewed, which details the relationship between the platform and body issues, teen depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. We’ve got a two part show today where we’ll hear from two experts responding to the testimony yesterday, and talking about what can be done to make change. First, to put a critical lens on the testimony, I spoke to Amanda Lenhart, a quantitative and qualitative researcher at Data & Society who studies how technology affects human lives, with a special focus on families and children. She has spent many years examining how adolescents and families use and think about technology. Most recently, as deputy director of the Better Life Lab at New America, Amanda focused on family-supportive policies that enable balance between the personal and the professional. She began her career at the Pew Research Center, studying how teens and families use social and mobile technologies. I recommend her report, The Unseen Teen: The Challenges of Building Healthy Tech for Young People, which takes the reader inside tech companies building products for young people, and exposes the challenges and contradictions of doing that work. Then, to get a better sense of some of the legislative reforms that may help address the types of problems exposed in the Wall Street Journal’s reporting, I spoke to Ariel Fox Johnson, Senior Counsel for Global Policy at Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that advocates around issues at the intersection of media, technology, and the lives of children. Ariel’s work focuses on enhancing family privacy rights, strengthening students' educational privacy, and promoting robust consumer protections in the online world.
88 minutes | Sep 26, 2021
The Bad News on Internet Freedom
We’ve got a three part jumbo show today. First, we’ll dive in to the results of the annual Freedom on the Net report from Freedom House with Allie Funk, Senior Research Analyst for Technology and Democracy at Freedom House. Then, we’re going to look at one place where internet freedoms are at risk- Canada, where a new proposal to regulate online harms looms- with Michael Geist, Professor of Law and Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa and Daphne Keller, who directs the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center. And then, we’re going to talk about the complexity of generating policies for content management on social media- and how a well-crafted multi-stakeholder approach can help- with Chris Riley, senior fellow of Internet Governance at the R Street Institute, a think thank in Washington D.C.
63 minutes | Sep 19, 2021
Facebook Fuels the Fire
On Monday, September 13th, the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights published a report titled Fueling the Fire: How Social Media Intensifies U.S. Political Polarization – And What Can Be Done About It, written by the Center’s deputy director, Paul Barrett, research fellow Grant Sims, and Tech Policy Press editor Justin Hendrix.Then on Wednesday, September 15th, the Wall Street Journal published an article in a series of exclusives, based on leaked internal documents from Facebook, with the headline “Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead: Internal memos show how a big 2018 change rewarded outrage and that CEO Mark Zuckerberg resisted proposed fixes”.Today, you’ll hear from Keach Hagey, one of the authors of that Wall Street Journal exclusive, followed by a conversation between Paul Barrett, Grant Sims and Justin Hendrix about the Center for Business and Human Rights report.
27 minutes | Sep 17, 2021
Rep. Lori Trahan on Instagram, teens and mental health
Today, I spoke with Representative Lori Trahan, the Congresswoman for the third district in Massachussetts, to get her reaction to a disturbing report in the Wall Street Journal about internal research at Instagram related to mental health impacts of that social media service, particularly on teens. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal published its headline, “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show.” The Journal’s Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman wrote that the Instagram documents they obtained were part of a "trove of internal communications provided to them on areas including teen mental health, political discourse and human trafficking."“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” said a March 2020 slide presentation.“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said a slide from 2019.And, the Journal says that one presentation showed that "among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram."I caught up with Representative Trahan earlier this afternoon. She put the Wall Street Journal’s report into the context of questions she asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a March 2021 hearing in the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and talked about what Congress might do next to hold the company accountable.
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