Few public policies are more misunderstood than the Fairness Doctrine that briefly governed American broadcast media. If you think we need a “new Fairness Doctrine” for the Internet, chances are you’re not clear on what the old version was. Paul Matzko, editor for technology and innovation at Libertarianism.org, joins the show to discuss the history of the Fairness Doctrine, why it failed, and why making a new one would be a terrible idea. For more, see Paul’s book, The Radio Right: How a Band of Broadcasters Took on the Federal Government and Built the Modern Conservative Movement.
Florida is poised to enact a law limiting social media websites’ ability to ban or moderate users. TechFreedom's Berin Szóka and Corbin Barthold discuss whether the bill is constitutional, and whether it would really protect speech (spoiler alert: no and no). For more, see their essay on the bill in Lawfare, a TechFreedom paper on Section 230 and the First Amendment, and a previous podcast episode on efforts to apply the Fairness Doctrine to the Internet.
If you’ve already heard us explain why the First Amendment protects content moderation and just want to hear why the Florida law’s special protections for political candidates are also unconstitutional, skip forward to 23:55. And here’s the 1979 Supreme Court decision in Midwest Video II explaining how, in 1934, Congress rejected proposals to require broadcasters to “turn over their microphones to persons wishing to speak.”
What can social-media platforms do to address growing concerns about extremism on their sites? Research suggests that YouTube, for one, has made great strides in driving viewers of radical messages toward more mainstream content. As new forms of misinformation arise, YouTube has succeeded in quickly adjusting its algorithmic recommendations. Dr. Anna Zaitsev is a postdoctoral scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Information, and the co-author of the paper “Algorithmic extremism: Examining YouTube’s rabbit hole of radicalization.” She joins the show to discuss her research on YouTube’s recommendation system, and what it takes to spot, block, and demote ever-evolving extremist content.
Data plays an increasingly important role in our criminal justice system, yet there are serious inequalities in prosecutors’ and defendants’ rights of access to it. Rebecca Wexler, assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and faculty co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, joins the show to discuss the growing role that data plays in criminal investigations and trials; the asymmetries in access to data, code, and more; and how we might reform the criminal justice system’s approach to science and technology.
The events of the last few years have shown the clear impact that movements beginning online can have in the real world. Social media platforms, as well as the legacy media and the government, have struggled to adapt to this development. Martin Gurri, former CIA analyst, Mercatus Center visiting research fellow, and author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium, joins the show to discuss the technologically driven fragmentation of narratives, what this means for society, and the broader challenges facing political and media elites and institutions. For more, check out The Revolt of the Public, see Martin’s work in Discourse Magazine, and read his recent article on the rise of post-journalism in City Journal.
China’s approach to surveillance, particularly its dystopian-sounding Social Credit System, has raised serious human rights concerns, particularly in its treatment of minority groups. Sheena Chestnut Greitens, associate professor at the University of Texas’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, joins the show to discuss China’s surveillance policies and the influence it could have on privacy around the world.
What can the tech industry expect from the incoming Biden administration? Emily Birnbaum, tech policy reporter at Protocol, joins the show to discuss President-elect Biden and his team’s likely approach to antitrust, Section 230, the gig economy, and artificial intelligence.
Policymakers across the political spectrum are using antitrust law to attack established companies’ acquisitions of smaller competitors. But are these “nascent acquisitions” inherently harmful? Asheesh Agarwal, TechFreedom’s deputy general counsel and competition counsel, and Andy Jung, a law clerk at TechFreedom, join the show to provide some historical context. They argue that nascent acquisitions often benefit both entrepreneurs and consumers. For more, see their new paper, The Long and Successful History of Nascent Acquisitions Suggests Caution in Rethinking Antitrust Enforcement.
The Global Antitrust Institute’s Report on the Digital Economy is out! Berin Szóka, the founder of TechFreedom, returns to the show to discuss his chapter, Section 230: An Introduction for Antitrust & Consumer Protection Practitioners. On tap: the history of Section 230; how it applies in antitrust and consumer-protection cases; l’affaire Federalist; adventures in futile litigation; Internet Darwinism; and more. Be sure to check out the full GAI report.