Social Media and the Public Interest

Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age

Philip M. Napoli

Columbia University Press

Social Media and the Public Interest

Pub Date: August 2019

ISBN: 9780231184540

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: August 2019

ISBN: 9780231545549

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.00

Social Media and the Public Interest

Media Regulation in the Disinformation Age

Philip M. Napoli

Columbia University Press

Facebook, a platform created by undergraduates in a Harvard dorm room, has transformed the ways millions of people consume news, understand the world, and participate in the political process. Despite taking on many of journalism’s traditional roles, Facebook and other platforms, such as Twitter and Google, have presented themselves as tech companies—and therefore not subject to the same regulations and ethical codes as conventional media organizations. In contrast to tech companies’ boasts of disruptive innovation, Philip M. Napoli offers a timely and persuasive case for seeing social media as news media, with a fundamental obligation to serve the public interest.

Social Media and the Public Interest explores how and why social-media platforms became so central to news consumption and distribution as they met many of the challenges of finding information—and audiences—online. Napoli illustrates the implications of a system in which coders and engineers drive out journalists and editors as the gatekeepers who determine media content. He argues that a social-media-driven news ecosystem represents a case of market failure in what he calls the algorithmic marketplace of ideas. To respond, we need to rethink fundamental elements of media governance based on a revitalized concept of the public interest. A compelling examination of the intersection of social media and journalism, Social Media and the Public Interest offers valuable insights for the democratic governance of today’s most influential shapers of news.
While recent episodes have raised questions about algorithmic manipulation and discrimination, what remained missing was a truly comprehensive account, one that not only synthesizes the state of affairs but also offers a conceptual framework for interpreting these developments in light of public policy, news values and ethics, and the future of the public sphere. This book bridges that gap. Seth C. Lewis, University of Oregon
Drawing on the history of US media regulation, Napoli offers an insightful framework for re-imagining how social media can serve the public interest. Social Media and the Public Interest is an essential text for policymakers and those struggling to reduce the harm of caustic content and misinformation. danah boyd, author of It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens

About the Author

Philip M. Napoli is the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he is also a faculty affiliate with the DeWitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy. His previous books include Audience Economics: Media Institutions and the Audience Marketplace (2003) and Audience Evolution: New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences (2010), both from Columbia University Press.

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