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Free Speech in the Digital Age$
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Susan J. Brison and Katharine Gelber

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190883591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190883591.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 03 December 2021

Demographics, Design, and Free Speech

Demographics, Design, and Free Speech

How Demographics Have Produced Social Media Optimized for Abuse and the Silencing of Marginalized Voices

(p.150) 9 Demographics, Design, and Free Speech
Free Speech in the Digital Age

Soraya Chemaly

Oxford University Press

The toxicity of online interactions presents unprecedented challenges to traditional free speech norms. The scope and amplification properties of the internet give new dimension and power to hate speech, rape and death threats, and denigrating and reputation-destroying commentary. Social media companies and internet platforms, all of which regulate speech through moderation processes every day, walk the fine line between censorship and free speech with every decision they make, and they make millions a day. This chapter will explore how a lack of diversity in the tech industry affects the design and regulation of products and, in so doing, disproportionately negatively affects the free speech of traditionally marginalized people. During the past year there has been an explosion of research about, and public interest in, the tech industry’s persistent diversity problems. At the same time, the pervasiveness of online hate, harassment, and abuse has become evident. These problems come together on social media platforms that have institutionalized and automated the perspectives of privileged male experiences of speech and violence. The tech sector’s male dominance and the sex segregation and hierarchies of its workforce result in serious and harmful effects globally on women’s safety and free expression.

Keywords:   content moderation, online harassment, hate speech, free speech, feminism, implicit bias, algorithmic bias, algorithmic accountability

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