Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: Facebook v. the White House: Renee DiResta and Brendan Nyhan Weigh In

Jen Patja, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Renee DiResta, Brendan Nyhan
Thursday, July 22, 2021, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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This week we're bringing you the breakdown of the heavyweight bout of the century—a battle over vaccine misinformation. In the left corner we have the White House. Known for its impressive arsenal and bully pulpit, this week it asked for the fight and came out swinging with claims that Facebook is a killer—and not in a good way. In the right corner we have Facebook, known for its ability to just keep taking punches while continuing to grace our screens and rake in the cash. The company has hit back with gusto, saying that Facebook has actually helped people learn the facts on vaccines. Period. Will either of them land a knockout blow? Is this just the first round of many match ups?

On this episode of our Arbiters of Truth series on our online information ecosystem, we devote the conversation to the latest slugfest between Facebook and the White House. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Renee DiResta, the research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, and Brendan Nyhan, professor of government at Dartmouth College, both of whom have been working on questions of online health misinformation. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Evelyn Douek is an Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and Senior Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She holds a doctorate from Harvard Law School on the topic of private and public regulation of online speech. Prior to attending HLS, Evelyn was an Associate (clerk) to the Honourable Chief Justice Susan Kiefel of the High Court of Australia. She received her LL.B. from UNSW Sydney, where she was Executive Editor of the UNSW Law Journal.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.
Renée DiResta is the technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, a cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching, and policy engagement for the study of abuse in current information technologies. Her work examines the spread of narratives across social and media networks; how distinct actor types leverage the information ecosystem to exert influence; and how policy, education, and design responses can be used to mitigate manipulation.
Brendan Nyhan is a political scientist and professor of government at Dartmouth College.

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