WeeklyTech #90

Should we treat social media platforms as common carriers?

Last Monday, EPPC President Ryan T. Anderson and Faulkner University law professor Adam J. MacLeod published a thought-provoking article at National Review walking through some of the arguments that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made concerning online governance and content moderation in his concurrence released alongside the court’s decision on Biden vs. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This particular case was ruled moot by the court, and the lower court decision was dismissed. The case was originally titled Trump vs. Knight. It was changed with the inauguration of Joseph R. Biden as president of the United States since the case revolved around the question of the president’s ability to block access to the public on a social media platform.

I will say at the outset here that I am not a lawyer or an expert in constitutional law. I am an ethicist who has been studying these issues of online governance from a Christian perspective for a number of years. Overall, I appreciate their engagement on these issues but think a few areas of their argument for regulating the technology industry need refinement. Briefly, I want to share a few questions and concerns about their approach, primarily focused on how these good faith approaches may end up doing more harm than good.

The Rundown

Facebook plans to go after Clubhouse — and podcasts — with a suite of new audio productsPeter Kafka | Vox

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a suite of audio products, including a Clubhouse competitor and a push into podcasting, that his company intends to roll out over the next few weeks and months.

Apple will let Parler back on the App StoreBrian Fung | CNN

Apple has approved Parler’s return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday.

EU proposes new rules for artificial intelligence Ashley Gold | Axios

European Union officials proposed new regulations Wednesday for high-risk uses of artificial intelligence, like facial scanning. The EU wants to set rules for uses of AI that shape decisions made about people’s lives and ban uses of AI that are deemed to be too risky.

Why Europe Is Hard on Big TechShira Ovide | New York Times

The European approach might be visionary, or it might kill helpful innovation in the cradle. It is definitely a real-world laboratory of what technology might look like with far more guardrails.

CR Engineers Show a Tesla Will Drive With No One in the Driver’s Seat  Keith Barry | Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports engineers easily tricked our Tesla Model Y this week so that it could drive on Autopilot, the automaker’s driver assistance feature, without anyone in the driver’s seat—a scenario that would present extreme danger if it were repeated on public roads.

Apple unveils new subscription podcast serviceSara Fischer | Axios

Until now, Apple’s podcast ambitions have mostly been tailored to courting listeners. Tuesday’s announcement was more focused on setting up a service in which podcast creators can better monetize their content.