Algorithmic amplification is the latest hot topic in the (seemingly endless) debate over social media content moderation. Legislators are introducing bills that would regulate when and how social media websites may “amplify” content by placing it near the top of people’s newsfeeds. But are these bills constitutional? Do they even address the problems the legislators claim to care about? Daphne Keller, a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, is the author of Amplification and Its Discontents, a seminal paper on these subjects. She joins host Corbin Barthold and Ari Cohn, Free Speech Counsel at TechFreedom, to discuss her paper, the obstacles to regulating speech-related algorithms, the fact that there is no “un-amplified” social media Eden to return to, and more.
Is social media accelerating the spread of conspiracy theories? It sure feels like it: look at anti-vaxxers, claims about election fraud, and QAnon. Professor Joseph Uscinski, a political scientist at the University of Miami, argues that this widespread hunch is not supported by the evidence. He and host Corbin Barthold examine that view, with a focus on what polling data says about the prevalence of conspiracy theories over time. They also discuss how the Internet affects public opinion (or not), when conspiracy theories become dangerous, how people should form beliefs, whether birds are real, whether King James II fathered a “warming pan baby,” and more.