v8n6: Forestal and Singer on Social Media and DisinformationPosted: August 25, 2020
A COMMENTARY ON Brett Gregory Johnson (2017), “Speech, Harm, and the Duties of Digital Intermediaries: Conceptualizing Platform Ethics,” J Media Ethics 32(1): 16–27.
This commentary is published as part of BEJR’s BUSINESS ETHICS IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC VIRTUAL SYMPOSIUM!
Johnson (2017) conceptualizes the social responsibilities of digital media platforms by describing two ethical approaches: one emphasizing the discursive freedom of platform-users, the other emphasizing protecting users from harmful posts. These competing concerns are on full display in the current debate over platforms’ obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Johnson argues both approaches are grounded in democracy, we argue that democratic commitments transcend the freedom/ harm dichotomy. Instead, a commitment to democracy points toward social media companies’ responsibilities to structure their platforms in ways that facilitate perspectival diversity and collective deliberation.
To download the full PDF, click here: Forestal and Singer on Johnson
Jennifer Forestal is Helen Houlahan Rigali Assistant Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Chicago. Abraham Singer is assistant professor of business ethics at Loyola University Chicago.