Public panel spotlights challenges, opportunities for First Amendment rights in the new information era

On Sept. 14, the Newseum hosted a public discussion, “Free Speech in the Social Media Era,” at the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Center. Moderated by Newseum President and CEO Jeffrey Herbst, the panel featured Geoffrey Brigham, YouTube’s director of trust and safety, Peter Stern, Facebook’s head of policy risk management, and Vivek Wadhwa, distinguished fellow and professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering.

The panel addressed how to promote free expression online, how to determine standards for internet-based exchanges now taking place across multiple countries and legal systems, and the implications of several hundred million more people gaining access to the internet in the next few years.

Stern also talked about what Facebook learned from the recent incident involving the iconic image from the Vietnam War, “Napalm Girl,” which Facebook initially removed due to the nudity in the photo but later reinstated after much criticism.

“It’s a fair question about what the next step is. I’m not sure I have a great answer to that,” said Stern. “But I do think the process reflects both the difficulties of the questions we face and, I hope, our willingness to take on pointed feedback and to correct a decision that we determined was not the right one.”

Watch the full panel discussion below:


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