Sunday, February 03, 2019

Regulating Social Media -- my talk at the University of Virginia


Here is a talk I gave on January 25th, 2019, at a conference on the Internet and Democracy at the University of Virginia.  The subject is how to regulate social media. The title U. Va gave the talk-- "How should the law approach social media abuses"-- was not chosen by me.

I discuss different models for social media regulation, arguing against treating social media as public fora and in favor of antitrust/competition law and information fiduciary approaches. I also argue that social media companies have to take on public responsibilities in the digital public sphere, something that they won't do until their business models change.

The appropriate way to change their business models, however, is through antitrust, privacy, and consumer protection regulation, rather than through directly attempting to regulate social media companies' editorial and curational practices.  We should also distinguish between social media companies and basic internet services (e.g., broadband companies, and the DNS system) which require different kinds of regulation.

The speech runs around 50 minutes including questions from the audience. A noted First Amendment scholar, Professor Leslie Kendrick, gives a very generous introduction.

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