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The Politics of Online Media Platforms

Speaker  Tarleton Gillespie

Affiliation  Cornell, Communication Department

Duration  01:21:56

Date recorded  20 January 2010

If the character of public discourse, long chaperoned by the broadcast networks and major publishers, is now increasingly in the hands of online media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr, then we must ask some quite old questions about how these commercial information providers navigate protecting free speech, meeting community standards, avoiding legal liability for their content, and pursuing their own business imperatives. Though they often make the promise to openly and impartially host all content, they are of course actively making decisions about where the edges of these platforms should be: what should and should not appear, how content should be organized, what should be featured or squirreled away, and how it should be patrolled. And they're experimenting with both traditional and novel techniques for managing this discourse: not just removal and rating, but also technical mechanisms for marking content or making it inaccessible, and emerging techniques of depending on community governance. My aim is to sketch this array of interventions and see them together as structuring contemporary public discourse, and situate them in the history of commercial obligations around free speech.

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