We have three segments in the show today. The first two reflect on the Christchurch Call Summit, a meeting of world leaders and tech executives held just two weeks ago to discuss efforts to police hate speech and extremism on social media. And the third is an interview with New York State Senator Anna Kaplan on legislation she has introduced to contend with hate speech and misinformation.
To learn more about the Christchurch Call summit and the dialogue around it, we invited Courtney Radsch, a member of the Tech Policy Press masthead, to lead the discussion. Courtney is a journalist, author, and advocate whose work focuses on technology, media and rights. She is a fellow at the Center for Media, Data, and Society at Central European University. She is the former advocacy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists and a member of the Christchurch Call Advisory Network, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) transparency working group, the OECD TVEC expert group on transparency, and the outreach and partnership chair of GigaNet, the academic network of internet governance scholars. She has a Ph.D. in international relations and is the author of Cyberactivism and Citizen Journalism in Egypt: Digital Dissidence and Political Change(2016) andMedia Development and Countering Violent Extremism: An Uneasy Relationship, a Need for Dialogue (2016), and has written and spoken extensively on the topic of countering violent extremism online.
First up, Courtney speaks with Paul Ash, the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Cyber and Digital and the Coordinator of the Christchurch Call. Then, she speaks with Dia Kayyali, Associate Director for Advocacy at Mnemonic, the umbrella organization for Syrian Archive, Yemeni Archive, and Sudanese Archive.
Next up, we hear from New York State Senator Anna Kaplan, who is Chair of the Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business. A Democrat from the 7th district, Kaplan joined with Assemblymember Patricia Fahy, a Democrat from Albany to introduce proposed legislation that calls for new rules on the moderation of hate speech and misinformation on social media networks. Announced shortly after the Facebook Oversight Board’s decision on Donald Trump- the Board criticized Facebook for its inconsistent application of unclear policies– the bills aim to ensure social media community standards are enforced consistently and transparently.
The bills reflect a growing trend among lawmakers at the state and federal level who seek to require transparency and consistency in content moderation practices on social media. For instance, a proposed bill in California bears some similarity to the New York proposal. And in Congress, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, and Rep. Kathy Castor, D-FL, recently introduced a bill that would require more transparency and rule making on social content moderation practices.
I spoke to Senator Kaplan about the New York bills, which are currently in committee. She referred to the real costs of misinformation to society, in particular related to COVID-19 and the false voter fraud claims that motivated the January 6th attack on the US Capitol.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.