The problems of free speech in any era are shaped by the communications technology available for people to use and by the ways that people actually use that technology. Twenty years ago, in 1997, when I began the Information Society Project at Yale, we were just entering the age of the Internet. Most people were still using dial-up modems, there was no Facebook, Google, or YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat; there were no iPhones. Only twenty years later, we have already entered into a new phase the Algorithmic Society - which features large, multinational social media platforms that sit between traditional nation states and ordinary individuals, and the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence agents to govern populations. In previous work, I have argued that the digital age makes salient one of the central purposes of freedom of speech. The goal of free speech, I contend, is to protect and foster a democratic culture. A democratic culture is a culture in which individuals have a fair opportunity to participate in the forms of meaning-making and mutual influence that constitute them as individuals.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Balkin, Jack M., "Free Speech in the Algorithmic Society: Big Data, Private Governance, and New School Speech Regulation" (2018). Faculty Scholarship Series. 5160.