Friday, May 29, 2020

Fixing Social Media: Media Apocalypse, Episode 2


In this episode of Media Apocalypse, my colleagues interview me about how to regulate--and how not to regulate--social media.

Three key takeaways:

First, it's the business models, stupid! Instead of focusing on specific fights over content moderation, focus on the way that social media companies make money: the control of digital advertising networks and the collection and use of personal data, which drive social media companies to choose policies that have harmful social effects.

Second, content moderation is necessary for social media to perform their appropriate social function in the new digital public sphere.

Third, if content moderation is necessary, it's important to have many different social media sites, with many different affordances and rules, and not just a few very large ones. We need social media federalism, not social media centralization.  Current legal rules-- including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and IP law-- stand in the way of interoperability that would help cure the very real problems of network effects that drive social media centralization. Put another way, our current degree of centralization is not an inevitable feature of the social media landscape. It is the product of legal rules that we can and should change.

For more along these lines, see my ACM lecture here.

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