As more of our lives shift online, the question of how speech should be regulated in this digital space becomes increasingly relevant. In response, social media companies have set precedents for regulating language on their private platforms. However, these mechanisms are often designed in order to work in tandem with artificial intelligence-based algorithms that have not yet been fully developed, leaving them instead to be administered inconsistently by human content moderators.
In this podcast, Janny HC Leung, professor of linguistics in the School of English at The University of Hong Kong, addresses the ethical and legal questions that arise from these attempts to monitor and evaluate—and sometimes even block—individuals’ language on social media. As she points out, the evolution of standards and practices around digital discourse has the potential to reshape the concept of free speech as we know it.