SUNY Plattsburgh Communication Studies Faculty Work
Addressing Misinformation on Whatsapp in India Through Intermediary Liability Policy, Platform Design Modification, and Media LiteracyThrough a case study of lynchings in India that are perceived to have been catalyzed by misinformation on WhatsApp, this article explores how policymakers can mitigate social media misinformation without compromising public discourse. We evaluate the costs and benefits of three approaches to managing misinformation: intermediary liability reform, changes to platform design, and public information endeavors addressing user attitudes and behaviors. We find that while current media literacy endeavors seem somewhat misdirected, more locally attuned initiatives might productively address the underlying susceptibility to misinformation while avoiding the free speech compromises that come with stringent liability rules and restrictions on anonymous speech.
User-Generated Content and the Regulation of Reputational Harm: The Boston Marathon Bombing as Case StudyCalls for internet platforms to perform more proactive moderation of users' speech based on its topical content itself—whether voluntarily or under threat of legal liability—have proliferated in recent years. Using the reputationally-damaging instances of misidentification that occurred during the 2013 search for the Boston Marathon bombers as a case study, this article attempts to construct a more detailed, holistic picture of the mechanisms by which reputationally-problematic speech is negotiated online in the absence of sweeping changes to intermediary liability laws. The article argues that the Boston Marathon case study illustrates a blind spot in the more modest, targeted proposals to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in America that have appeared in recent years, and ultimately recommends placing additional emphasis on further developing norms of responsible speech in online communities, as their participants are perhaps more receptive to such endeavors than popular caricatures of "internet vigilantes" might suggest.
Picketing the Virtual Storefront: Content Moderation and Political Criticism of Businesses on YelpThis article examines incidents in which business owners incur criticism on the consumer review platform Yelp based on political ideology. I analyze two case studies from the summer of 2018 by considering the sentiments expressed in the review texts, the application of Yelp’s relevant policies, and the tactical adaptations of reviewers. The case studies evince a normative conflict over how the platform should treat viral criticism of this sort. While Yelp clearly cannot truly function as a laissez-faire public forum, its moderation criteria can be gamed, and its efforts evidently exclude a range of sentiments that some users find meaningful. The article provides an in-depth exploration of a platform that has received somewhat less attention in the growing literature on the role of private intermediaries in shaping what kinds of speech attain visibility in the digital public sphere.
Woman-As-Symbol: Intersections of Indian Nationalism, Gender, and IdentityThe purpose of this article is to explore the connection between Indian nationalism and gender identity. I provide a critique of Radhakrishnan and Chatterjee's notion of the outer/inner dichotomy of Indian nationalism by stating that religion, in postcolonial India, has emerged as a discursive totality that has subsumed the politics of indigenous or inner identity more so than other rhetoric of caste, tribal, gender, and class. I provide a groundwork for this debate via the writings of Nehru and Gandhi. I conclude, through an analysis of the practices of amniocentesis and Sati, that women and their bodies have been used as representations of the conflicts surrounding national subjectivity.