The Administrative State of Content Moderation
In this talk, Evelyn Douek argues that the stylized picture of content moderation that dominates academic, public and regulatory discourse needs reframing. Content moderation is a process in which social media platforms write legislative-style substantive rules & apply them in individual cases. This standard picture of content moderation is a striking analogue to offline judicial adjudication of speech rights and, as a result, leads regulators and scholars to assume that the best way to vindicate speech interests online is through the kind of ex post individual review provided by courts in 1st Amendment cases.
But this assumption is mistaken. The most important decisions about content moderation are ex ante and systemic. These decisions are made by a wide range of actors and institutions that determine how speech flows through platforms and they promote multiple goals of governance, not merely individual justice. To make content moderation as a whole accountable, and not merely a narrow slice of it, the standard picture needs to be expanded and online speech governance needs to be made more ex ante and systemic. This presentation outlines the standard picture of content moderation, what it misses, and how regulators should therefore borrow from the tools and principles of the administrative state instead when thinking about how to rein in platforms & resist the allure of 1st Amendment analogies.
The fall speaker line up includes:
November 2nd: David Kaye, Clinical Professor of Law, UC Irvine
November 9th: Eric Goldman, Associate Dean for Research, SCU
November 16th: Deen Freelon, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
November 23rd: THANKSGIVING BREAK
November 30th: Tanu Mitra, Assistant Professor, University of Washington
December 7th: Sandra Gonzalez Bailon, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Pennsylvania
These sessions are open to the public but registration is required.