It is rare in this day and age to sit with a panel that is international and bipartisan while thinking about issues that are impacting everyone, opened Ann O’Leary, Partner at Jenner & Block. Turning to Facebook, O’Leary noted that it was the first social media company to give some of its power away. Brent Harris, Vice President of Governance at Meta, told how it was clear by 2018 that people wanted educated experts who were independent of the company to be empowered to make decisions about content. One of those experts, Nighat Dad, Board Member at the Oversight Board, explained that the board is setting frameworks and setting standards in concert with government regulations and standards in the European Union and elsewhere. Dave King, CEO of Digitalis and Concordia Advisor, raised questions about how governments can keep up with the speed of progress, and which countries’ values should form the basis of regulation.
Asking the former government officials to comment, Hon. Jeh Johnson, Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Concordia Leadership Council Member, brought up the 2016 election and the disinformation campaign on social media. He complimented Meta for addressing the issue. Amb. Mark Green, President, Director & CEO of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Concordia Leadership Council Member, praised the Biden Administration for its speed in protecting information. Hon. Glenn Nye, President & CEO of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, explained that our era of hyperpartisanship is exacerbated by a lack of education and understanding about the nature of social media.
O’Leary asked the panelists how to empower social media users. Roy L. Austin, Jr., Vice President of Civil Rights at Meta, pointed to his role as an advocate in evaluating the impact the 200 billion daily posts make on historically-marginalized communities. Secretary Johnson laid the responsibility on users to learn how to better evaluate news sources, while Dad emphasized the importance of multiple languages, noting that English should not be the default everywhere. King agreed that education is a fundamental component in keeping people safe online, while Green encouraged media literacy as a way for users to develop a healthy skepticism about different streams of information. Harris advocated for a systems-based approach.
Closing the panel with a look at the future, Harris said we need to decide what we want the next phase of the Internet to be and who will hold the power. The metaverse is a decade away from its realized form. Green suggested that Meta should work to demystify the process by which it makes its decisions, while Secretary Johnson noted that in a free and open society, this freedom can be both a strength and a weakness. Austin ended on a hopeful note, explaining the role virtual reality may play in training and teaching.
“We are looking at the effect, the impact of the decisions that Meta makes on historically and systemically-marginalized communities.”
Roy L. Austin, Jr., Vice President of Civil Rights, Meta
“Companies need to look into the contextual details when it comes to content moderation.”
Nighat Dad, Board Member, Oversight Board
“We don’t need consensus. What we need is constructive disagreement.”
Amb. Mark Green, President, Director & CEO, The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Concordia Leadership Council Member
“What do we want the next phase of the Internet to look like and who should hold power?”
Brent Harris, Vice President, Governance, Meta
“The public needs to be more educated and concerned about what they consume on a daily basis.”
Hon. Jeh Johnson, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Concordia Leadership Council Member
“No government can keep up with the speed of tech.”
Dave King, CEO, Digitalis; Concordia Advisor
“If it were up to me, I would replace home economics with digital economics all over the U.S. curriculum.”
Hon. Glenn Nye, President & CEO, Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress
“We are still suffering from the fact that we had government officials who were spreading lies.”
Ann O’Leary, Partner, Jenner & Block