videoJuly 30 2015

Social Media, Algorithms, and the Public Interest

Philip Napoli

Databite No. 48

The public interest concept has traditionally been a central, multi-faceted, and highly contested guiding principle in the governance of media platforms that have played a significant role in the dissemination of news and information. As social media platforms play an increasingly important role in how news is disseminated and consumed, it is important to examine if and how this principle is taking shape in the realm of social media governance, and to identify points of intersection and disconnect with the principle’s interpretation and application in the governance of traditional media. Drawing upon social media governance discourse and research on the dynamics of how social media platforms are being used in the dissemination and consumption of news and information, this presentation illustrates that a restrictive and individualist model of the public interest characterizes the social media space. The implications of this emerging manifestation of the public interest in social media governance is also considered within the broader context of developing a viable public interest framework for algorithm governance.

Philip M. Napoli is the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy and a Faculty Affiliate with the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy.  He also serves as a Docent at the University of Helsinki.

Professor Napoli’s research focuses on media institutions and media regulation and policy.  He has provided formal and informal expert testimony on these topics to government bodies such as the U.S. Senate, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Congressional Research Service.

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