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13th Annual Conference | March 4-7, 2018 | Austin, Texas & Online

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Keynote [clear filter]
Monday, March 5
 

9:00am

Content Standards and Their Consequences: How Platform Power is Reshaping Global Communications Policy
FREE KEYNOTE VIDEO (live & archived version)

Recent concerns about the rise of “fake news” have spurred debates about what constitutes “good” or “bad” information, and who gets to define these standards. Although platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter (and others) are reluctant to be the “arbiters of truth,” their role as the de-facto distribution system for all news media has made them powerful entities in deciding what content should be prioritized over their networks--or removed altogether. In this talk, Robyn Caplan explores how platforms, and the incentives underpinning their algorithmic and data-driven systems, already shape how news media content is produced, classified, distributed, and amplified online. Her talk will explore how tech utopian discourse and legal regimes established in the 1990s, led to the current moment, where the law has positioned platform companies as reluctant governors of speech spanning multiple jurisdictions and media formats. Yet, the power platforms hold is increasingly contested. As Caplan shows, governments and professional associations are challenging platforms' disavowal of their own power, but even these interventions face limitations as platform power continues to grow.

Keynote Speaker Details

VIDEO


Speakers
avatar for Robyn Caplan

Robyn Caplan

Researcher, Data & Society
Robyn Caplan is a Researcher at Data & Society, and a doctoral candidate at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information Studies under the supervision of Professor Philip Napoli. Her most recent research explores how the concept of the ‘public interest’ in media... Read More →


Monday March 5, 2018 9:00am - 10:00am
Salon 4
  • Online Conference Live
 
Wednesday, March 7
 

10:30am

Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy
FREE VIDEO (Click for live stream and archive version of this keynote presentation)

If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook. Of course, none of that was part of the plan. This is the story of how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging.  It’s an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it’s an indictment of how “social media” has fostered the deterioration of democratic and intellectual culture around the world. Facebook grew out of an ideological commitment to data-driven decision making and logical thinking. Its culture is explicitly cosmopolitan and tolerant of difference and dissent. Both its market orientation and its labor force are global. Facebook also indulges a strong missionary bent, one that preaches the power of connectivity and the spread of knowledge to empower people to change their lives for the better. No company better represents the dream of a fully connected planet “sharing” words, ideas, images, and plans. No company has better leveraged those ideas into wealth and influence. No company has contributed more to the global collapse of basic tenets of deliberation and democracy. How did the mission go so wrong? Facebook’s leaders believed that good intentions were enough, and that blind faith in technology could generate a better world.

Speakers
avatar for Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan

Robertson Professor of Media Studies / Director, Center for Media & Citizenship at the University of Virginia
Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction from Oxford University Press, published in 2017, and The Googlization... Read More →


Wednesday March 7, 2018 10:30am - 11:30am
Salon 4
  • Online Conference Live