26.3. NRC Guest Lecture with Visiting Professor Eugenia Siapera: The Extreme Public Sphere – Political and Regulatory Dilemmas

26.3. New Research Culture Guest Lecture with Visiting Professor Eugenia Siapera (University College Dublin) 14.00-16.00 at HSSH Seminar Room, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor, room 524 (& Zoom).

26.3.2024 14.00–16.00 at HSSH Seminar room 524, Fabianinkatu 24, 5th floor (access via courtyard). Zoom link for remote participants.

The Extreme Public Sphere: Political and Regulatory Dilemmas

The rise of Alt Tech platforms and the spread of extreme and other kinds of toxic content across all digital platforms pose significant questions for digital policy and regulation. This talk will provide an overview of the extreme public sphere, including its main platforms, and defining characteristics, outlining three challenges for the digital public sphere as a whole. These include: (i) the shift towards a more conversative and exclusionary common sense; (ii) the chilling effect of toxic digital cultures; and (iii) the harm caused to specific communities. To what extent can current regulation address these challenges? The talk will begin addressing this question through unpacking the main values and principles of regulation, focusing on the Digital Services Act. It will be argued that the DSA does not and cannot adequately address these challenges because it conceives of freedom in the negative sense of removing barriers to communication; and because it views digital platforms as economic and not as political actors. The talk will conclude by providing a sketch of an alternative approach.

Eugenia Siapera is Professor of Information and Communication Studies and the co-Director of the UCD Centre for Digital Policy (with Elizabeth Farries). Her research interests are in the area of digital platforms, political communication and journalism, technology and social justice, platform governance and hate speech, racism and misogyny. She was the PI of an IRC-funded project on racist hate speech in the Irish digital sphere, and a partner in a H2020 project on the mediated memory of conflict (RePAST). She is currently working on an IRC Coalesce project on Alt Tech and Harmful Narratives. She has written numerous articles and book chapters. Some of her recent book projects include Understanding New Media (Sage, 2018, second edition), Gender Hate Online (2019, Palgrave, co-edited with Debbie Ging). Radical Journalism (2023, Routledge co-edited with Seamus Farrell and George Souvlis). She is currently working on the third edition of Understanding New Media and on an edited volume on Cancel Culture (with Paraic Kerrigan and Elizabeth Farries, under contract with Routledge).

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