Free Speech through a New Lens

February 28, 2018

Posted: February 28, 2018, 12:46am

Learning from biggest advocates for free speech, journalism, and media at Annenberg Hall.

A few weeks ago, I attended an incredible Visions & Voices event called Free Speech through a New Lens: Film, Digital Media, and Social Change. Free speech has always been a strong source of debate on college campuses, so Annenberg, along with an honors society and Participant Media hosted a panel to discuss free expression in the modern age, and the contemporary challenges of dissent, diversity, and inclusion. For me, the title of this conversation was enough to draw me in and attend, but the panel was completely stacked as well. The Phi Beta Kappa Secretary and CEO Frederick Lawrence, led the talk featuring Participant Media’s CEO David Linde, The Washington Post executive editor Martin “Marty” Baron, SoulPancake’s CEO Shabnam Mogharabi, and Academy Award-winning writer and producer, Josh Singer.

From the get-go, this discussion blew me away. Although I am an active user of social media and reader of papers like The Washington Post, I had never really thought deeply into censorship by private platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and the information expression ecosystem. For reporters of legitimate journals, there is a certain level of accountability and responsibility for publishing the truth. On social media sites like Facebook, that’s not the case. Facebook doesn’t take responsibility for what’s posted, and neither does the user. This ultimately leads to massive volumes of false information being published daily, all of which can have drastic consequences on public perception and belief. The nature of “the press” has expanded in terms of delivery and the participation of others, so when do these new sources of news need to reveal their censoring mechanisms and become more transparent about codes of conduct? At a certain point, somebody may have to step in and declare these private platforms as public space, prohibiting censorship and regulating “fake news”. For anyone who is deeply concerned about the possible Russia interference in the 2016 election and their use of social media should watch the entire discussion here: USC has had an incredible string of visitors lately, and I can’t wait to keep learning from all of them!!


Published on February 28th, 2018

Last updated on April 1st, 2021