Democracy & Elections

The Lawfare Podcast: The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media Transparency

Jen Patja, Evelyn Douek, Quinta Jurecic, Brandon Silverman
Thursday, February 17, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Brandon Silverman is a former Facebook executive and founder of the data analytics tool CrowdTangle. Brandon joined Facebook in 2016 after the company acquired CrowdTangle, a startup designed to provide insight into what content is performing well on Facebook and Instagram, and he left in October 2021, in the midst of a debate over how much information the company should make public about its platform. As the New York Times described it, CrowdTangle “had increasingly become an irritant” to Facebook’s leadership “as it revealed the extent to which Facebook users engaged with hyperpartisan right-wing politics and misleading health information.”

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brandon about what we mean when we talk about transparency from social media platforms and why that transparency matters. They also discussed his work with the Congress and other regulators to advise on what legislation ensuring more openness from platforms would look like—and why it’s so hard to draft regulation that works.

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.
Brandon Silverman is a former Facebook executive and founder of the data analytics tool CrowdTangle.

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