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*This is an in-person only event held at King’s College London. To RSVP and obtain your complimentary ticket, please click here

About the event:

The liberal art of government is forced to determine the precise extent to which and up to what point individual interest, that is to say, individual interests insofar as they are different and possibly opposed to one another, constitute a danger for the interest of all. The problem of security is the protection of the collective interest against individual interests. Conversely, individual interests have to be protected against everything that could be seen as an encroachment of the collective interest.

– Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979, p. 65.

In this presentation I will take the question of content moderation on digital platforms as a case study in Foucauldian approaches to governmentality. The early history of the Internet was framed around a set of ideas that identified it as a “technology of freedom”, unencumbered by the constraints associated with traditional media. Over time, a series of limitations have arisen with this optimistic framing of the open Internet, ranging from the commercial imperatives facing digital platforms that broker online interactions, the range of actual and potential harms associated with online content and user behaviour, and the limits of self-regulation.

Such developments mean that we now live in an age where there are considerable expectations around tech companies being able to moderate digital content in the public interest. The policy and regulatory developments are, however, underpinned by a set of anxieties, ranging from the question of who should moderate and by what means, concerns about government interference with online spaces, and polarised political debates about “cancel culture” and the nefarious influence of “Big Tech”. Drawing upon Michel Foucault’s lectures on neoliberal governmentality in The Birth of Biopolitics, I wish to consider what these debates tell us about the possibilities and prospects of governing online spaces so as to promote civic culture and standards of public discourse.


The workshop is held at Bush House South East Wing Room 1.05, King’s College London at 6.15pm.

About the Speaker:

Terry Flew is Professor of Digital Communication and Culture at the University of Sydney. He is the author of 16 books (seven edited), 71 book chapters, 118 refereed journal articles, and 20 reports and research monographs. His books include The Creative Industries, Culture and Policy (SAGE, 2012), Global Creative Industries (Polity, 2013), Media Economics (Palgrave, 2015), Understanding Global Media (Palgrave, 2018), Regulating Platforms (Polity, 2021), and Digital Platform Regulation: Global Perspectives on Internet Governance (Springer, 2022).

He was President of the International Communications Association (ICA) from 2019 to 2020 and is currently an Executive Board member of the ICA. He was elected an ICA Fellow in 2019. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities (FAHA), elected in 2019. He has advised companies including Facebook/Meta, Cisco Systems and the Special Broadcasting Service, and government agencies in Australia and internationally, including the Australian Communication and Media Authority and the Singapore Broadcasting Authority.

He has held visiting professor roles at City University, London and George Washington University, and is currently a Distinguished Professor with Communications University of China. He currently holds two Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery grants, on Trust and Distrust in News Media, and Valuing News: Aligning Interpersonal, Institutional and Societal Perspectives, and heads the International Digital Policy Observatory, funded by the ARC in partnership with the Australian Information Industries Association.