Free Speech and Social Media

Old Capitol Senate Chambers
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

The first event in this series featured a variety of perspectives on the challenges related to free speech in the ecosystem of social media, by a diverse panel of first amendment, industry and political perspectives. The speakers for this event were:

Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Professor, UI College of Law. Professor Pettys provided an overview of the first amendment as it relates to social media and regulation and moderated the discussion for the evening.

Keynote speakers:

  • Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel at NetChoice. Mr. Szabo provided a perspective on behalf of the social media industry.
  • Mike Davis, Founder and President, Internet Accountability Project. Mr Davis is a UI Alum and provided a conservative perspective on the regulation of speech on social media.
  • Traci Griffith, Associate Professor, Simmons University. Professor Griffith provided the perspective of a former AP journalist, an academic and lawyer who is on the executive committee of the national board of the ACLU.

Reactors for the discussion:

Two leaders of the Iowa Legislature provided an Iowa political perspective of free speech and social media.

  • Sen. Amy Sinclair, represents District 14th (Wayne County-based) and Chairs the Senate Education Committee.
  • Sen. Zach Wahls, represents District 37 (Johnson County-based) and is the Senate Minority Leader.

Topics discussed included:

  • Who, if anyone, should control what’s allowed online?
  • Should there be more regulation around how tech companies operate? Specifically, should the regulations associated with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act be modified, and if so, how and by whom?
  • If not by regulation, how should we consider misinformation or other activities contrary to the public good that arise on social media?

This event was free and open to the public, and was made available on livestream. You can view the recording below, and also read articles about the event in the Daily Iowan and the Press-Citizen.