Content Standards and Their Consequences: How Platform Power is Reshaping Global Communications Policy

Recent concerns about the rise of “fake news” have spurred debates about what constitutes “good” or “bad” information, and who gets to define these standards. Although platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter (and others) are reluctant to be the “arbiters of truth,” their role as the de-facto distribution system for all news media has made them powerful entities in deciding what content should be prioritized over their networks--or removed altogether. In this talk, Robyn Caplan explores how platforms, and the incentives underpinning their algorithmic and data-driven systems, already shape how news media content is produced, classified, distributed, and amplified online. Her talk will explore how tech utopian discourse and legal regimes established in the 1990s, led to the current moment, where the law has positioned platform companies as reluctant governors of speech spanning multiple jurisdictions and media formats. Yet, the power platforms hold is increasingly contested. As Caplan shows, governments and professional associations are challenging platforms' disavowal of their own power, but even these interventions face limitations as platform power continues to grow.Keynote Speakers