Jillian York: Censorship, Human Rights, and Activism in the Digital Age

November 7th, 2019 · 1 hr 3 mins

About this Episode

Where should digital platforms draw the line between content moderation and censorship? How do company policies shape our culture, and how can we make technology a force for good?

In this episode, writer and activist Jillian York (Director for International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation) joins Joe Petrowski (Research Analyst, Parity Technologies) to discuss freedom of expression, censorship and surveillance by digital platforms, and the role of internet activism in global social movements.


0:45 - What is freedom of expression?
2:41 - What is authority in relation to free speech?
4:05 - Facebook
8:40 - Content moderation vs censorship
22:38 - Governments asking platforms to censor content
25:15 - Algorithmic moderation
29:12 - Is technology a force for democracy?
34:18 - Using platforms for political organization
50:45 - Anonymity, privacy, and safety
58:10 - Hope and optimism for the future


Key Quotes:

"Censorship always backfires."

"A lot of people think that technology is this ultimate force for democracy. It doesn't pan out that way though."

"I'm not sure that I believe in tech as a force for democracy. I believe in tech as a tool in the same way books are a tool"

"In San Francisco, you have all of these incredibly talented engineers and technologists who, instead of building toilets for the homeless population, which is desparately needed there, are trying to save the world with an app.... It's about making money and white savior complexes rather than about looking locally."

"Liberal society means you need to have a thick skin."