CANCELLED -- It’s Not Just the Content, It’s the Business Model: Democracy’s Online Speech Challenge

New America

03/17/2020 - 16:00 to 17:30


Hate speech. Viral disinformation campaigns. Political polarization propelled by targeted ads. These kinds of online content are a dominant public concern in the 2020 election cycle, and policymakers are pushing to regulate content on social media platforms as a result.

But these efforts fail to tackle the technological forces that make these messages spread so effectively, to so many people: Algorithms. Powered by vast datasets depicting the intimate details of our lives—all while giving the illusion that “virality” represents genuine popularity—corporate algorithms form the bedrock of these companies’ business models.

This event will highlight Ranking Digital Rights’ latest report, the first in a two-part series, on algorithms, targeted advertising, and the urgent need for corporate transparency around these systems.

As pressure mounts on Congress to hold internet platforms liable for these kinds of online speech, we argue that we must examine these technological systems, the companies that build and benefit from them, and the profound impact they are having on American democracy.

Join Ranking Digital Rights on St. Patrick’s Day for a lively discussion about the challenges of holding tech companies accountable for their social impact and why content restrictions alone won’t fix the internet.

Irish beer and snacks as well as nonalcoholic beverages will be served.


Ellen Weintraub, @ellenlweintraub
Commissioner, Federal Election Commission

Jen Daskal@jendaskal
Professor and Faculty Director, Tech, Law & Security Program, American University Washington College of Law

Shireen Mitchell@digitalsista
Founder, Stop Online Violence Against Women

Nathalie Maréchal@marechalphd
Senior Policy Analyst, Ranking Digital Rights


Cecilia Kang, @ceciliakang
National Technology Correspondent, New York Times


New America
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