Media gallery

Free Markets, Free Speech? Social Media and Censorship in the Twenty-First Century

6:30 – 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 6
Watkins Room, Trone Student Center

Media and politics specialist Dr. Danielle Vinson hosted a conversation with Nu Wexler, communications strategist with experience at Google, Facebook, and Twitter and on Capitol Hill and Meliah Bowers Jefferson, attorney at Wyche, P.A., specializing in First Amendment law.

Over the last twenty years, social media and political polarization have combined to present new challenges to free speech in America. Legal free speech protections remain quite strong, and millions of users now choose to raise their voices on social media. At the same time, citizens across the political spectrum feel that their speech and even their very identities are under increasing threat from others, fueling newfound bipartisan interest in government regulation of social media companies and calling into question whether Americans are as committed to free speech in our politics and culture as we are in our laws. What is the relationship between social media and free speech today, and what might a wise policy future look like?

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About our speakers

Nu Wexler

Nu Wexler is a communications professional with over two decades of experience in policy communications in the private sector and on Capitol Hill. After starting his career as a staffer for former U.S. Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, Nu later served as communications director for the House Budget Committee, the House Education and Labor Committee, and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. More recently, he worked in the technology sector for Twitter, Facebook, and Google, focusing on privacy, cybersecurity, disinformation, copyright, and child safety. In these roles, he helped develop and communicate global online content policies and worked with NGO stakeholders on strategies to identify and counter violent extremism online. He graduated from the University of South Carolina.

Meliah Bowers Jefferson

Meliah Bowers Jefferson is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business, and earned her law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law. A member attorney at Wyche, P.A., she has worked primarily in the area of trial and appellate litigation, with an emphasis on complex civil litigation and intellectual property law and including First Amendment experience. Her varied experience also includes representing plaintiffs and defendants in cases involving corporate governance, commercial law, election law, governmental authority, and disputes over intellectual property. She recently worked on an appeal representing Facebook (Kevin Richard v. Facebook) involving allegations that Facebook was liable for failing to remove allegedly disparaging posts.

Danielle Vinson

Danielle Vinson is a Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Furman University with a B.A. from Furman and PhD from Duke University. Her teaching and research interests focus on institutions in American government with a particular emphasis on Congress and the media. She teaches courses on Congress, the Presidency, Media and Politics, and American Government. She is the author of the book Local Media Coverage of Congress and Its Members and has written articles and chapters on Congress and the media, political parties and the media, religion and politics in the media, and communication and spending in political campaigns.