The murky history of moderation, and how it’s shaping the future of free speech.
Their stories reveal how the boundaries of free speech were drawn during a period of explosive growth for a high-stakes public domain, one that did not exist for most of human history. As law professor Jeffrey Rosen first said many years ago of Facebook, these platforms have “more power in determining who can speak and who can be heard around the globe than any Supreme Court justice, any king or any president.”
However, these debates (unlike say, congressional hearings), are shielded from public view, as both corporate and civil society participants remain nearly silent about the deliberations. Without greater transparency, users, consumers — the public at large — are ill-equipped to understand exactly how platforms work and how their own speech is being regulated and why. This means that the most basic tools of accountability and governance — public and legal pressure — simply don’t exist.