The suspension of former Pres. Trump’s accounts on major sites like Twitter and Facebook last month has reignited a national conversation about what and how we communicate on the internet—and why we should reimagine it. Who stays? Who goes? Who decides?
Today, we talk with social media expert Sarah T. Roberts about these issues, including Congress’s role in regulating the tech industry, who decides what’s permissible speech online, the invisible work of commercial content moderators, the limitations and biases of AI, the materiality of the internet, and the environmental costs of hosting all this data.
We wrap up the conversation with a discussion about reimagining the internet to serve the public—because our experience online could be much, much better than it is today.
Sarah T. Roberts is an assistant professor of information studies at UCLA and co-director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. She is the author of Behind the Screen: Content Moderation in the Shadows of Social Media (Yale University Press, 2019).
Cover photo of data center at the University of Washington by Taylor Vick on Unsplash