This special Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University podcast is a continuation of Reimagine the Internet, a virtual spring 2021 conference co-hosted by the Institute and the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In this episode, Katy Glenn Bass, research director, and Alex Abdo, litigation director, chat with Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Initiative for Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Zuckerman, Glenn Bass, and Adbo use questions raised during the conference’s concluding panel to launch a discussion about the complex role of social media in civic and social life. Drawing comparisons to analogous community structures and using real-world case studies, Zuckerman clarifies the benefits and challenges of a decentralized online world, federated social media networks, and volunteer content moderation structures.
In the podcast, Zuckerman advocates for a decentralized social media network where moderation is a serious and core concern—requiring us to commit to “community processes where we have real conversations about what’s acceptable and what’s not.” This approach closely hews to the free speech tradition.
Ultimately, the conversation discards the binary technological and social divide that governs conversations around social media content moderation. Instead, Zuckerman embraces how the social world informs the digital one and explores how successful online communities occur in unlikely places.
Listen below to learn more about the future of the social digital world.