2023 Symposium: The First Amendment in the Digital Age

This year, the Symposium Chairs presented a two-day Symposium titled The First Amendment in the Digital Age: Truth, Power, and Lies. On April 6 and 7, students gathered to hear panelists speak on the challenges we face in a world increasingly dominated by social media and online (mis)information. The Symposium was co-sponsored by the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, the American Constitution Society, and the Berkman Klein Center.

The first panel, The Digital Public Square, featured Ramya Krishnan, a staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University; and Professor Marshall Van Alstyne, the Questrom Professor in Management at Boston University. The panel was moderated by Connor Haaland. Among other things, Krishnan and Professor Van Alstyne discussed the social media ecosystem as a market and what to do when the market fails–that is, is too polluted with both useless true information and important misinformation.

The second panel, Disinformation and Lies, featured David McCraw, the Deputy General Counsel for The New York Times and a lecturer on law here at HLS; Professor Yonathan Arbel of the University of Alabama; and Joan Donovan, the Research Director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. This panel was moderated by Lincoln Plews. The panelists discussed some of the problems in navigating online spaces with increasingly accurate artificial intelligence, including the rise of Chat GPT.

Thank you to our wonderful Symposium Chairs and co-sponsors for making this year’s Symposium a success!