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Episode 55: Deplatforming, Deprogramming, and Democracy

January 15 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm PDT

Today we examine the ethical dilemmas and moral hazards of Deplatforming, a la Parler, and Twitter this week. What are the vectors and mechanisms of disinformation spread? And why are cults of personality breaking out across the globe? What does all this portend for the internet regulation policy conversations to come in (the recently mob attacked) House and Senate?

1) First Skirmish. First meet Yael Eisenstat, former CIA officer and national security official who ran election security for Facebook — before blowing the whistle and resigning in 2016. Today we’ll reprise a conversation we had with her last season as COVID disinformation was in full bloom. What’s it like to be in a war room as disinformation and botnets attack? We’ll meet a Soviet defector who in the 1980s tells us what to expect from Russian information warfare, and then examine contemporary internet era policy response requirements.

2) Propaganda and the Cult of Personality. Next up, Professor Nancy Snow, one of America’s foremost experts on propaganda and radicalization. She’ll join us from Japan as we seek to understand the cult of personality that grew around Stalin in the 20th century and in China and the Philippians today. More than a decade ago Nancy led an effort to understand the techniques of ISIS and Al Qaeda radicalization. What do these tell us about radicalization threats in America today… and what to do about them.

3) Vectors of Contagion. Hate speech and conspiracy ideas spread on internet much like viruses do in the real world. Dave Troy is an expert in the science network analysis and disinformation. He’ll help us understand the social conditions that leave so many ripe for radicalization and conspiracy, and the underlying math that explains how these propagate with such virulence.

We conclude with a bit of American exceptionalism: the stories we’ve told ourselves when we’ve been divided before and decided that our country needed a future in its future.


January 15, 2021
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm PDT