NEW YORK – The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University announced today that Genevieve Lakier, a professor of law at the University of Chicago, and evelyn douek, a lecturer and doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School, will join the Institute later this year as visiting research scholars. Their work with the Institute will focus on disinformation and the First Amendment, and on the regulation of speech on and by social media platforms, respectively.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with these two brilliant scholars,” said Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute’s executive director. “Professor Lakier will help us interrogate some of the assumptions underlying contemporary free-speech discourse and doctrine; evelyn douek will help us better understand and respond to the influence that major social media companies have over our speech environment. We’re looking forward to having both scholars engaged in all aspects of the Institute’s work.”

Lakier will begin her term as Senior Visiting Research Scholar in September 2021 and spearhead an interdisciplinary inquiry into “Disinformation, Misinformation, and the First Amendment in the Mass Public Sphere.” One of the foundational assumptions of modern First Amendment law is that the best remedy for harmful speech—including harmfully false or misleading speech—is more speech. Lakier will explore whether this assumption can hold, given our contemporary, fragmented and highly polarized mass public sphere, and what can be done if not. During her tenure at the Institute, Lakier will bring together scholars from a range of disciplines to explore these issues in a series of workshops, culminating in a major symposium in the spring of 2022.

evelyn douek will join the Institute as Associate Research Scholar this summer. She will write and organize events about questions related to content moderation by social media platforms and proposals for regulating big tech. She will also work closely with Institute staff to support and expand the research program.

“We’ve had the good fortune of having published both Professor Lakier’s and evelyn douek’s work as part of earlier Knight Institute research projects,” said Katy Glenn Bass, the Knight Institute’s research director. “I’m looking forward to deepening this engagement and expanding the reach and scope of the Institute’s research program with input from both of these incredibly talented scholars.”

“Raging debates over the problem of disinformation and misinformation in the mass public sphere have not yet engaged much with First Amendment doctrine and theory,” said Lakier. “I look forward to bringing First Amendment scholars into dialogue with media studies scholars, sociologists and historians, for an interdisciplinary exploration of the difficult question of how, as a democratic society, we should regulate lies.”

“I could not be more excited to join the Knight Institute, which works at the absolute cutting edge of the intersection of the First Amendment and technology, the topics I study, love, and criticize,” said douek. “I’ve closely followed the Institute’s work and impact, and can’t wait to get to participate in it.” 

The Institute’s current Visiting Research Scholar is Ethan Zuckerman, Associate Professor of public policy, information, and communication at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Director of the Institute for Digital Public Infrastructure. Previous visiting scholars at the Institute include Amy Kapczynski, Professor of Law at Yale Law School; Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law at Columbia Law School; and David Pozen, Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. More information about their projects is available here

For more information, contact Lorraine Kenny: [email protected]