CRITIQUE-Global Justice Academy Seminar Transitional Justice, Social Media, and Responsibility
SSPS Chrystal Macmillan,
Violet Laidlaw Room 6.02,
Mon 29 May 2023
The involvement of Big Tech companies in mass atrocity, particularly through the dissemination of toxic speech in their commercial digital platforms, raises multiple challenges for the aspiration of transitional justice (TJ) to attribute moral and legal responsibility to wrongdoers and their accomplices. This is for many reasons: because of the kind of actors Big Tech companies are (organizationally complex, profit-oriented); because of the kind of service they provide (we may call it “platforming”, which involves hosting third parties’ speech); and because of how speech is formed in the platforms (spontaneously but also through manipulation). The paper will examine all these considerations to sketch a conceptual framework to illuminate the grounds for ascribing responsibility to Big Tech companies. The framework will serve as a basis to argue that Big Tech companies should be a part of TJ processes to a much greater extent than has so far been the case.