The Limits of Free Speech on Social Media

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By UCL Political Science. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Talking with each other about matters of politics and policy is an essential part of democracy. And today much of that conversation takes place online, through social media. The digital revolution has given voice to millions of people who previously had little chance to be heard beyond the dinner table or the pub or the local town hall. That has great benefits, opening up the democratic conversation to much wider participation. But it also has costs. Misinformation, hate speech, and words inciting violence can all rapidly spread.

That raises big questions about how speech online should be regulated. And if it should be regulated more, who should set and enforce the rules: the state, or the social media companies themselves?

Such events were cast in yet starker relief by events earlier this month in the United States. Is it right that Donald Trump was banned from Twitter? And that Parler – the alternative to Twitter that became popular on the far right – has been squeezed from the internet by service providers?

We explore all of this and more with Dr Jeffrey Howard, Associate Professor of Political Theory, New Generation Thinker, and Leverhulme Trust Research fellow.

Host: Dr Alan Renwick

Dr Jeffrey Howard

Jeff’s 2019 article ‘Dangerous Speech’ has been awarded the Fred Berger Memorial Prize by the American Philosophical Association for the best article published on the philosophy of law in the last two years.

26 episodes