Can Free Speech Survive The Social Media Mob? (Video / Slides)

Thanks to SeattleSMC for hosting me to speak at Seattle City Hall on Free Speech and The Social Media Mob. Additional thanks to everyone who participated in two threads on the topic: input wanted and compiled list of legal cases regarding social media harassment and mob behavior. Kudos to event sponsor Mayor Ed Murray and Maurice at Bootstrapper Studios for filming.

Here’s the video from my talk:

Here are the slides I presented, modified slightly to add context for stand alone consumption:

9 Responses to “Can Free Speech Survive The Social Media Mob? (Video / Slides)”

  1. Joe McCarthy

    Great slides – looking forward to the video!

    I especially like the “Implications for you” slide (#67) … and most especially “Read what you RT / share”.

    I increasingly read not only the main post / article but some of the comments before I decide whether / how to retweet a link to it, as the input of some members of the social media mob – especially on some sites – can be illuminating, and sometimes substantially change my perspective on the post / article.

    1. Scott

      Thanks Joe.

      I wish more people had such a high standard as you. Or at least were more honest about what their standard is.

      It is fascinating how some websites draw more hostile crowds than others. It’s correlated with popularity of course but not directly – some sites manage to keep far more decorum than others.

  2. Sean Crawford

    Regarding your slide “most people don’t realize threats are not protected by freedom of speech”
    I am reminded of a scene in Red Planet, subtitled A colonial boy on Mars, by Robert Heinlein.
    As the town doctor tells it, (my memory) “A respected citizen was asked why he shot a noted gunfighter in the back. (instead of duelling) The man answered, “Well, he’s dead and I’m alive and that’s the way I wanted it to be.””

    In other words, a threat is like pointing a fire arm, or challenging me to dual at high noon: you may know you are only trying to scare me, but I’m not a mind reader: I have the right to defend myself, ideally by having a policeman in arm’s reach.

    1. Scott

      Nice anecdote. I’m not familiar with the history of death threats in America but I suspect it’s quite long. Most people don’t realize it’s a criminal act, or as you suggest, fail to recognize all of the possible consequences of the other person taking it literally.

  3. Kylie

    Looks like it was a great talk Scott, can’t wait for the video. It does fascinate me how’s my people share without reading – or validating. I think sometimes I might be too cynical but I do try to err on the side of caution about sharing, and even liking. Doesn’t mean I haven’t been caught out with sources I trust but usually serves me well.
    Brilliant insights, as always.

    1. Scott

      What’s interesting is how powerful the ease at which these tools let us share overwhelms any sense of integrity or participation in holding to a higher standard. As I mention in the slides, technology is amoral. Making things faster makes everything, good and bad, faster.

  4. Genevieve Howard

    I also look forward to the video. I found the section on endorsements (especially the more accurate profile disclaimers!) and the choice of case studies stellar. Thanks for posting this!

    1. Scott

      You’re welcome. Sadly there are more examples – if you know other important ones I missed let me know.



  1. […] Can Free Speech Survive The Social Media Mob? (slides)Thanks to SeattleSMC for hosting me to speak at Seattle City Hall on Free Speech and The Social Media Mob. The talk was livestreamed and recorded, and I’ll add that video to this post once it’s live. Additional thanks to everyone who participated in two threads on the topic: input wanted and compiled list of legal… […]

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