39 Tracy Chou Wants to Help You Avoid Trolls

While some big social media companies are working to use AI to combat harassment, Tracy Chou has a simpler solution — put users in control of what and who they see on their feeds. In this week’s episode, Tracy tells us about he app Block Party, a clever and radical set of tools to protect users from trolling and abuse.

38 The Spotify Problem, with Damon Krukowski

Did Spotify save the music industry or simply find a way for itself to profit from a power vacuum opened up by piracy? This week, we’re thrilled to welcome drummer and writer Damon Krukowski to talk to us about how Spotify became dominant and how musicians are fighting it to win a music industry that supports their livelihoods.

Rerun — Talia Stroud, Civic Signals

Talia Stroud from the University of Texas joins us to talk about her project Civic Signals, a project reimagining the Internet as a public space. She walks us through what’s wrong with the type of speech currently rewarded by Facebook and Twitter, and what it might look like to promote civic speech instead. Recorded August, 2020. Visit our episode web page for links to Civic Signals’ website and newsletter, and Eli Pariser’s TED Talk.

37 Maciej Ceglowski Wants a Smaller Internet for a Better World

Maciej Ceglowski is not just the founder of one of the indie web’s success stories — the modest yet long-running subscription bookmarking service Pinboard — but a prolific commentator on the world the Internet is helping to create. This week, we’re thrilled to chat with Maciej about reimagining not just the Internet, but the stakes that the people using the Internet are responding to.

36 Are.na’s Visual Utopia with Charles Broskoski and Daniel Pianetti

Are.na might be the most exciting social network for designers, artists, and curious, interdisciplinary self-educators, kind of like Pinterest or Tumblr but offering the functionality to spin a vast web of images and knowledge. The platform is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, so we invited two of Are.na’s co-founders to talk to us about the close-knit (and often paying) community that makes the site vibrant and how the platform’s systems of Blocks and Channels makes it an ideal tool for connecting ideas and creating trains of thought.

35 Social Media for Activism with Deen Freelon

Deen Freelon is one of the foremost scholars on how contemporary protest movements organize on the Internet. This week Deen joins us to talk about his work on the Black Lives Matter movement, how he’s trying to understand mis- and disinformation from both the right and the left, and what fixing social media might look like when the scale of platforms like Facebook and Twitter is what makes them so exciting and so difficult to moderate.

Rerun — Elizabeth Hansen-Shapiro

Elizabeth Hansen-Shapiro joins Ethan to talk about “New Approaches to Platform Data Research,” the report they just published together with the NetGain Partnership. Elizabeth and Ethan talk about a variety of issues facing journalists and researchers for studying social media companies, and what sort of solutions — both small-scale and radical — could help ensure a better-studied, more accountable social media ecosystem. Elizabeth is the co-founder of the National Trust for Local News.

34 Fixing Failed Moderation with Sarita Schoenenbeck

Moderation processes online should reduce harm, offer victims justice they find meaningful, and fix inequity in these social spaces. On all of these counts, the moderation systems implemented by big social media companies fail conclusively. Sarita Schoenebeck from the Living Online Lab at the University of Michigan joins us to talk about what moderation and harm reduction driven by the real-world experiences of victims might look like.