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After Charlottesville, examining how tech giants are becoming gatekeepers for online content

In this photo illustration, the Google logo is projected onto a man on August 09, 2017 in London, England. Founded in 1995 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google now makes hundreds of products used by billions of people across the globe, from YouTube and Android to Smartbox and Google Search.
Leon Neal/Getty Images
In this photo illustration, The Google logo is projected onto a man on August 09, 2017 in London, England.

In the days since the violence in Charlottesville, major tech companies across the spectrum have been wading into the national discussion about how far free speech protections go when it comes to the kinds of hate speech that white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups use to promote their beliefs.

In the days since the violence in Charlottesville, major tech companies across the spectrum have been wading into the national discussion about how far free speech protections go when it comes to the kinds of hate speech that white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups use to promote their beliefs.

Monday, Domain name registrar GoDaddy de-listed the popular neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. Google did the same after backlash when the site switched its registration there.

All of this raises the issue of whether, and if so how much, tech companies like Google, Facebook and GoDaddy should be policing the content on their sites. Some say it’s about time the companies start taking responsibility for offensive things that use their infrastructure as a platform to spread their message. Others worry about a slippery slope situation regarding free speech, and that the censorship could go too far.

Do you think these tech giants should be the gatekeepers in deciding what is offensive and what isn’t for their sites, or do you worry about the potential for going too far and running afoul of the First Amendment?

Guests:

Elizabeth Dwoskin, Silicon Valley correspondent for the Washington Post

Matthew Prince, CEO and co-founder of Cloudflare, a SF-based company that provides content delivery, internet security services and domain name server services; it recently announced it would stop servicing the neo-Nazi website ‘Daily Stormer’

Barry McDonald, professor of law at Pepperdine University

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