2021 Presentations (Communicative Events)
Deplatforming and Innovation
This evening panel will showcase innovative community-building work done by groups often excluded by traditional social media platforms. Eliza Sorensen, cybersecurity expert and co-founder of Assembly Four, will discuss Switter, an alternative to Twitter built for sex workers as a response to deplatformings triggered by SESTA/FOSTA. Esra’a Al Shafei, Bahraini activist and entrepreneur, will discuss the challenges experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community in the Gulf States and the social media platform she’s built for queer Arab youth.
Reimagine the Internet is a virtual conference co-hosted by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and the soon-to-be-launched Initiative on Digital Public Infrastructure at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In six sessions over five days, there will be more than a dozen speakers whose work hints at what the internet could become over the next decade.
As the internet has become an inescapable part of our commercial, social, and civic lives, the flaws and harms of the contemporary internet have become increasingly apparent. Despite rhetoric of decentralization, monopolies and points of control have arisen online, and powerful corporations have largely unregulated power over vast swaths of speech and commerce. The spaces these corporations have built may be having significant negative effects on our democracies, leading towards political polarization, the spread of mis/disinformation, and the growth of politically influential conspiracy theories.
While there is robust debate about what social ills can be traced to decisions made by commercial actors, the discussion over what’s to be done is often circumscribed. We debate how platforms like Facebook and YouTube should be regulated to be less harmful, but the conversation rarely extends to questions about how we could design new internet spaces that could lead towards healthier discussions, communities, and societies. “Reimagine the Internet” is an event designed to spark some of these conversations and to feature some of the most promising efforts in this direction.