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Yochai Benkler

  • The Russians didn’t swing the 2016 election to Trump. But Fox News might have.

    October 24, 2018

    An op-ed by Yochai Benkler...But research I helped conduct has found that the fundamental driver of disinformation in American politics of the past three years has not been Russia, but Fox News and the insular right-wing media ecosystem it anchors. All the Russians did was jump on the right-wing propaganda bandwagon: Their efforts were small in scope, relative to homegrown media efforts. And what propaganda victories the Russians achieved occurred only when the right-wing media machine picked up stories and, often, embellished them.

  • A New Book Details the Damage Done by the Right-Wing Media in 2016

    August 29, 2018

    The Washington conventional wisdom presupposes a kind of symmetry between our polarized political parties. Liberals and conservatives, it is said, live in separate bubbles, where they watch different television networks, frequent different Web sites, and absorb different realities. The implication of this view is that both sides resemble each other in their twisted views of reality. Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity, in other words, represent two sides of the same coin. This view is precisely wrong, according to a provocative new book by Yochai Benkler, Robert Faris, and Hal Roberts that will be published next month by Oxford University Press. The book’s title, “Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics,” is a mouthful, but the book’s message is almost simple. The two sides are not, in fact, equal when it comes to evaluating “news” stories, or even in how they view reality.

  • Revealed: 2018 midterms under attack (video)

    August 6, 2018

    Facebook reveals new attacks on the 2018 U.S. Midterm elections that they describe as “consistent” with the Russian election meddling in 2016. Terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance tells Ari Melber that “the nation is under attack” and Congress must take it “seriously”. Harvard Law School’s Yochai Benkler says foreigners trying to influence U.S. Elections are “trolling us” and trying to make Americans think “our democracy is not safe”, but “largely they’re not driving the effect”.

  • Morality in the Machines 6

    Morality in the Machines

    June 26, 2018

    Researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are collaborating with MIT scholars to study driverless cars, social media feeds, and criminal justice algorithms, to make sure openness and ethics inform artificial intelligence.

  • The ruse of ‘fake news’

    April 6, 2018

    As Americans increasingly turn to social media as their primary source for news and information, the dangers posed by the phenomenon of “fake news” are growing...In a recent study described in the journal Science, lead authors Matthew Baum, the Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, David Lazer, a professor at Northeastern University and an associate of the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and more than a dozen co-authors argue that a multidisciplinary effort is needed to understand better how the internet spreads content and how readers process the news and information they consume. Such broad-based efforts are necessary, the authors said, “to reduce the spread of fake news and to address the underlying pathologies it has revealed.”...In addition to Baum and Lazer, the paper was co-authored by Yochai Benkler, Adam J. Berinsky, Kelly M. Greenhill, Filippo Menczer, Miriam J. Metzger, Brendan Nyhan, Gordon Pennycook, David Rothschild, Michael Schudson, Steven A. Sloman, Cass R. Sunstein, Emily A. Thorson, Duncan J. Watts, and Jonathan L. Zittrain.

  • The science of fake news

    March 12, 2018

    An article by David M. J. Lazer, Matthew A. Baum, Yochai Benkler, Adam J. Berinsky, Kelly M. Greenhill, Filippo Menczer, Miriam J. Metzger, Brendan Nyhan, Gordon Pennycook, David Rothschild, Michael Schudson, Steven A. Sloman, Cass R. Sunstein, Emily A. Thorson, Duncan J. Watts, and Jonathan L. Zittrain. The rise of fake news highlights the erosion of long-standing institutional bulwarks against misinformation in the internet age. Concern over the problem is global. However, much remains unknown regarding the vulnerabilities of individuals, institutions, and society to manipulations by malicious actors. A new system of safeguards is needed.

  • Fox News website beefs up and ‘goes a little Breitbart’

    January 2, 2018

    A sleeping media giant may be about to wake up: Fox News’ website — known for its high traffic, but not strong identity —is staffing up and sharpening its voice in hopes of equaling the impact of its increasingly pro-Trump television partner. A website that had been more closely identified with Shepard Smith’s brand of reporting has now moved closer to the mold of Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, according to former staff members who spoke on the condition of anonymity...Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law School professor, was part of the group with MIT that studied how readers consumed news online during the 2016 election, and said that Fox News has an incentive to move to the right. Analyzing linking and sharing patterns of 1.25 million stories, his group found that Fox News and Breitbart formed the heart of “a relatively insular and self-referential” online news ecosystem...“Fox News became less prominent, fewer Twitter shares, fewer Facebook shares,” he said. But that changed during the general election. “It’s only when they line up, after Trump essentially wins out, that they return to their position of prominence,” he said. “In many senses, it was a capitulation of Fox News to the Breitbart line.”

  • The Fake News Debate is a Distraction, Says Information Era Intellectual Yochai Benkler

    December 11, 2017

    In a 2006 book called “The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom” (Yale University Press), Yochai Benkler theorized that the internet would bring about a revolution that will democratize access to power...In the following eleven years Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, have become global behemoths, collecting in their way an unfathomable wealth of users’ data. At the same time, there were those who learned how to manipulate the data available and use the internet to spread misinformation. These are the issues that occupy Mr. Benkler, now a Law professor at Harvard and the co-director of the university’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. "The attitude in Silicon Valley is that if we want it hard enough, technology can solve every problem. In reality, these companies and entrepreneurs are creating very centralized systems without being aware of the risks because they consider themselves to be ‘the good guys,’” says Benkler in an interview with Calcalist.

  • Anatomy of a Fake News Scandal

    November 17, 2017

    The revelations overcame Edgar Maddison Welch like a hallucinatory fever. On December 1st, 2016, the father of two from Salisbury, North Carolina, a man whose pastimes included playing Pictionary with his family, tried to persuade two friends to join a rescue mission. Alex Jones, the Info-Wars host, was reporting that Hillary Clinton was sexually abusing children in satanic rituals a few hundred miles north, in the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant...Welch did not find any captive children – Comet Ping Pong does not even have a basement – but he did prove, if there were any lingering doubts after the election, that fake news has real consequences. Welch's arrest was the culmination of an election cycle dominated by fake news – and by attacks on the legitimate press...That was exactly how the right-wing-media ecosystem worked during the 2016 campaign, explains Yochai Benkler, who directs the Berkman-Klein Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard. After the election, he and his colleagues mapped about 2 million campaign-news stories. He found that far-right-media outlets were organized extremely tightly around Breitbart and, to a lesser degree, "The right paid attention to right-wing sites, and the more right-wing they were, the more attention they got," Benkler says.

  • Here’s How Facebook Could Be Regulated

    November 1, 2017

    Mark Zuckerberg’s original motto for Facebook was “Move fast and break things.” It now appears that he’s going to have to answer for moving too fast and breaking too many things. After years of trying to avoid oversight from Washington, the 2-billion-person social network platform is set for a reckoning. Facebook is approaching its first major congressional oversight hearings in November after it revealed that a Russian “troll factory,” called the Internet Research Agency, purchased advertisements in order to influence the 2016 election...Yochai Benkler, the Berkman professor of entrepreneurial legal studies at Harvard Law School, suggested another change: Lawmakers could pass a bill to require social networks to identify bots (automated accounts) and “sockpuppets” (fake accounts run by real people) to detail their role in spreading political advocacy advertising. No legislation has been discussed to tackle the problem of social media bots spreading paid propaganda...“Facebook is too immunized from competition to be left to adopt self-regulation,” Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler said.

  • Who Will Rein In Facebook? Challengers Are Lining Up

    October 30, 2017

    We’re treated to fresh reports nearly every day about how Facebook Inc.’s efforts to keep bad actors from abusing its platform fall short...While the current Congress is loath to mint new regulations, that hasn’t stopped Sens. John McCain (R., Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) and Mark Warner (D., Va.) from proposing the Honest Ads Act, which would force internet companies to tell users who funded political ads...The new bill is an obvious way to bring the tech giants in line with other media, with whom they clearly now compete, says Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law School professor and co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

  • Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning

    October 11, 2017

    Shortly after taking over Uber Technologies Inc. in September, Dara Khosrowshahi told employees to brace for a painful six months. U.S. officials are looking into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property...Now as federal authorities investigate the program, they may need to get creative in how to prosecute the company. “You look at what categories of law you can work with,” said Yochai Benkler, co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. “None of this fits comfortably into any explicit prohibitions.”

  • Facebook, Google Spread Misinformation About Las Vegas Shooting. What Went Wrong?

    October 4, 2017

    In the hours just after the massacre in Las Vegas, some fake news started showing up on Google and Facebook. A man was falsely accused of being the shooter. His name bubbled up on Facebook emergency sites and when you searched his name on Google, links of sites connecting him with the shooting topped the first page. It appears to be another case of automation working so fast that humans can't keep pace...Yochai Benkler, a law professor at Harvard, says that with such massive scale even if there were humans helping out there would be mistakes. Benkler says that even if Facebook and Google blocked sites like 4chan, it wouldn't solve the problem. "Tomorrow in another situation like this someone will find some other workaround," Benkler says.

  • Panelists Share Perspectives on Social Media’s Impact

    October 3, 2017

    As social media becomes increasingly integral to everyday life, four Harvard professors discussed its impact on individuals’ identities and relationships at a panel event Monday. Panelists including Law School professor Yochai Benkler, Berkman Center fellow Judith S. Donath, Medical School professor Michael O. Rich, and Kennedy School professor Todd T. Rogers gave their perspectives on social media in a panel moderated by Government Department Chair Jennifer L. Hochschild and organized by Harvard’s Mind Brain Behavior initiative. Benkler discussed the phenomenon of “fake news,” delineating two contrasting psychological theories about how humans consume information.

  • Facebook Is Still In Denial About Its Biggest Problem

    October 2, 2017

    It's a good time to re-examine our relationship with Facebook Inc. In the past month, it has been revealed that Facebook hosted a Russian influence operation which may have reached between 3 million and 20 million people on the social network, and that Facebook could be used to micro-target users with hate speech. It took the company more than two weeks to agree to share what it knows with Congress...Will Facebook solve this problem on its own? The company has no immediate economic incentive to do so, says Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. "Facebook has become so central to how people communicate, and it has so much market power, that it's essentially immune to market signals," Dr. Benkler says.

  • Could public pressure cause Facebook to regulate itself? (audio)

    September 25, 2017

    An interview with Yochai Benkler. Politicians, the public, and regulators are all starting to face up to the power of social media companies. Particularly ... Facebook. That company said last week it would give Congress thousands of political ads, linked to a possible Russian propaganda campaign. Facebook will also update its ad technology to try to keep political advertising in check. But it's looking more and more like Facebook's days of sell first, apologize later could be coming to an end.

  • Campaign ’16: how coverage rerouted

    September 11, 2017

    If you thought that media coverage during the 2016 presidential election seemed, more often than not, to boost Donald Trump and criticize Hillary Clinton, you didn’t imagine it, a new report says. According to the report from Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, which applied data analysis techniques to 2 million election stories to understand better what people were reading and sharing, Trump not only got the most attention from media outlets across the political spectrum, but his preferred core issues — immigration, jobs and trade — received significant coverage and were widely shared online...From the data, “We know exactly what is the first time in which the Clinton Foundation is raised, in which particular week, linking to what story, based on what structure. We can then say who linked to that story, who amplified it?” said Yochai Benkler, the Berkman Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and the study’s principal investigator.

  • Benkler report focuses on partisanship, propaganda and disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election

    Benkler report focuses on partisanship, propaganda and disinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election

    August 31, 2017

    Many arguments have been made about the media’s influence in the last Presidential election, but Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 has undertaken what may be the most scientific study on the topic to date, “Partisanship, Propaganda and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election."

  • Facebook Can’t Fix Our Political Divide With an Algorithm

    August 22, 2017

    If you were concerned that American political discourse is very seriously broken, there's bad news: You're right, and the technological forces that shaped it can't be the ones substantively provide a fix. A new report on disinformation, partisanship, and online media released on Wednesday by Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society takes a grim view of the state of political discourse..."[T]he issue is even though people are forming false beliefs, they probably want to form those false beliefs because these stories are essential to constructing their political identities," Yochai Benkler, a professor of law at Harvard Law School and one of the authors of the report, told me in a phone interview.

  • The great divide: The media war over Trump (video)

    June 19, 2017

    ...If what you're hearing and reading and watching runs the gamut of what's referred to these days as the "mainstream media" -- center-right to partisan left -- then professor Yochai Benkler, at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, has concluded that all of you are consuming pretty much the same material. He recently completed a study of coverage of the Trump-Russia story throughout May 2017. "If you look and compare the words that are typical of places like the Wall Street Journal or Fortune or what we would normally think of as center-right; sites that are the three networks, the Times, the Post; all the way to Huffington Post and Daily Kos and things that are more partisan left -- they all used very similar words."

  • Researchers Examine Breitbart’s Influence On Election Information (audio)

    March 15, 2017

    A study of 1.25 million media stories says a Breitbart-centered media ecosystem fostered the sharing of stories that were, at their core, misleading. Steve Inskeep talks to researcher Yochai Benkler.

  • Facebook co-founder’s new $10 million initiative to test if cash handouts will help fix America

    December 12, 2016

    Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes, Harvard Law School and Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society Professor Yochai Benkler, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Alaska State Senator Bill Wielechowski may not agree on everything, but they agree on this: Cash handouts have the potential to help Americans and the American economy. Given the challenges posed by automation and globalization, which are replacing workers and leading to stagnating wages, direct payments to workers may, in fact, be the only solution.

  • Another Trump legacy: How we may be seeing the last of pols’ tax returns

    November 4, 2016

    Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns is beginning to seem less an aberration than a prelude. And that has open-government advocates worried that a decades-long standard of transparency is at risk of extinction. ...  Beyond the information and revelation of the documents themselves, open-government advocates argue, this nonlegal standard of disclosure has represented a rare example of political compromise. "Democracy doesn't work if the attitude of people running for leadership is 'I will get away with whatever I can get away with and what the law doesn't specifically prohibit,'" said Yochai Benkler, a Harvard Law professor and advisor to the Sunlight Foundation. "That is a barely acceptable way for people who work in the private sector."

  • Think Tank Scholar or Corporate Consultant? It Depends on the Day

    August 15, 2016

    ...An examination of 75 think tanks found an array of researchers who had simultaneously worked as registered lobbyists, members of corporate boards or outside consultants in litigation and regulatory disputes, with only intermittent disclosure of their dual roles. With their expertise and authority, think tank scholars offer themselves as independent arbiters, playing a vital role in Washington’s political economy. Their imprimatur helps shape government decisions that can be lucrative to corporations...“I think we have too much influence of funded research with clear interests at stake that is treated as though it is independent and academic research,” said Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of its Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. “There is no culture in the discipline to mark funded research clearly, or systematically treat it as less reliable.”

  • Encryption Technology Could Help Corporate Fraudsters. We Still Need to Fight for It.

    April 28, 2016

    Early this week, James Clapper, the head of U.S. intelligence, complained to journalists that Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing (my word, not Clapper’s) had sped up wider use of encryption by seven years. That’s great. Now let’s speed it up even more. ...Given these potential problems, it’s tempting to be sympathetic with the law enforcement position on encryption—but history is clear that we can’t trust the government in this arena. As Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler wrote recently, our law enforcement and national security institutions have routinely—and with the impunity so routinely assumed by the rich and powerful—lied, broken laws, and thwarted oversight. “Without commitment by the federal government to be transparent and accountable under institutions that function effectively, users will escape to technology,” he wrote, and as a result we are learning to depend on technology.

  • Debate over Airbnb and Uber reveals hypocrisy of ‘sharing’ economy

    April 11, 2016

    ...If the current debate over how to regulate services like Uber and Airbnb reveals anything, it's hypocrisy on all sides of this issue. Industries that have profited handsomely from a market monopoly for decades are suddenly pleading for support from the people they've fleeced. Homeowners with dollar signs in their eyes are appalled at the prospect of being taxed for turning their suites into hotel rooms...Harvard Law School author and researcher Yochai Benkler was one of the first to look at the potential for information technology to allow forms of networking that might transform the economy and society. He wrote 10 years ago in glowing terms about the revolutionary power of "loosely or tightly woven collaborations" to change fields ranging from software development to investigative reporting. But lately, Benkler has been warning against what he calls the "Uber-ification" of services; he argues that what's emerging is not "sharing" but an "on-demand" economy for everything ranging from dog walking to grocery buying. In the process, he says, regular folks are using their homes and cars to take the places of "the people formerly known as 'employees.'" And affordable rental housing becomes someone else's problem.

  • The data republic

    March 24, 2016

    “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral,” said the late Melvin Kranzberg, one of the most influential historians of machinery. The same is true for the internet and the use of data in politics: it is neither a blessing, nor is it evil, yet it has an effect. But which effect? And what, if anything, needs to be done about it?...All this suggests that data and analytics risk slowing down and perhaps even undoing the welcome redistribution of power to ordinary people that the internet seemed to be able to offer. They create “points of control” in what used to be largely an “open system”, as Yochai Benkler of Harvard University puts it in a recent article in Daedalus, an American journal. The design of the original internet, he writes, was biased towards decentralisation of power and the freedom to act. Along with other developments such as smartphones and cloud computing, he now sees data as a force for recentralisation that allows “the accumulation of power by a relatively small set of influential state and non-state actors”.

  • We cannot trust our government, so we must trust the technology

    February 25, 2016

    An op-ed by Yochai Benkler. The showdown between Apple and the FBI is not, as many now claim, a conflict between privacy and security. It is a conflict about legitimacy. America’s national security agencies insist on wielding unaccountable power coupled with “trust us, we’re the good guys”, but the majority of users have no such trust. Terrorism is real, and surveillance can sometimes help prevent it, but the only path to sustainable accommodation between technologies of secrecy and adequately informed policing is through a root-and-branch reform of the checks and balances in the national security system.

  • The Internet’s Founding Fathers Issue a Warning

    January 12, 2016

    ...[David] Clark, and Harvard professor Yochai Benkler, one of the legal experts that shaped the Internet’s development, have issued a warning in joint papers published in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ magazine, Daedalus. More than three decades after the worldwide communications network was born, Clark and Benkler say they’re deeply concerned that the Internet is headed in a dangerous direction that its founders never intended...Benkler realized the Internet was like a new Louisiana Purchase – a huge amount of new property suddenly open for adventurous homesteaders to stake a claim. So he switched tracks. Using the Homestead Act as a guide, Benkler helped create a legal framework that protected the Internet from being gobbled up and claimed by corporations. And then, smart phones came along. And Steve Jobs created the iPhone. “I think there’s very little doubt that Steve Jobs in particular was someone who had a vision of a more controlled experience that viewed consumers as people who needed a well controlled, well structured environment to thrive in,” Benkler said. “That was part of his genius, and that was part of his threat.”

  • Yochai Benkler on whistleblowers, the news ecosystem and self-organizing in the commons

    November 17, 2015

    Yochai Benkler, who has written extensively on the “networked public sphere,” including his influential book “The Wealth of Networks,” recently spoke about his proposal for a defense of whistleblowers, his testimony in a trial of a well-known leaker of military documents, and a problem he calls a growing crisis in the country.

  • Interview: Yochai Benkler on market solutions through shared resources and co-operation

    November 6, 2015

    The challenge for co-operatives, says Yochai Benkler, is to be more self-aware. He believes that co-ops need to be “more self-conscious (in the way that commons-based production online is) of the broader social, economic role of co-ops as an alternative model well beyond the business sustainability and the success of the individual organisation”. Prof Benkler has been studying commons and co-operation for over 20 years. He started researching Wikipedia when it was just six months old and has since written about the co-operative dynamics and social and political implications of large-scale online co-operation.

  • Net neutrality could become the biggest face-off on corporate speech since Citizens United

    September 28, 2015

    Do Washington's net neutrality rules run roughshod over the First Amendment? That's what some opponents have been arguing -- claiming that the government's regulations infringe on Internet providers' right to free expression. Now, in a flurry of responses to that charge, defenders of the rules appear eager for the biggest showdown over the meaning of corporate speech since the Citizens United case...Others are challenging the idea that Internet providers are even capable of speech. As pipes that carry consumers' Web traffic to and fro, Internet providers are just a "conduit" for people's speech, according to a group of academics including Harvard's Lawrence Lessig and Yochai Benkler, and Stanford's Barbara van Schewick. "It follows that when the Open Internet Rules require providers to carry others’ speech, they do not require the providers themselves to speak," they argue in their own brief.

  • Victorious Snowden stuck in exile

    June 8, 2015

    Edward Snowden is claiming victory this week, after President Obama signed legislation that significantly curbs federal surveillance powers for the first time in a generation. But the world’s most famous American leaker is still stuck in Russia, with the U.S. having revoked his passport and indicted him on espionage charges that would likely lead to a lengthy prison sentence, should he step back on American soil...“In the context of laws that are very broad, the power to selectively prosecute those that expose things that are critical of the administration’s behavior, while not prosecuting — or prosecuting for a very limited offense — those who leak in a way that supports the administration ... is an abuse of power itself,” said Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The fact that Snowden remains a fugitive after spurring changes in the law “says more about us and our system than about him,” Benkler added. It’s “a profoundly distorted view of American democracy,” he said.

  • It’s Time to Bring Edward Snowden Home

    May 21, 2015

    ...During his speech against the Patriot Act, [Rand] Paul leaned heavily on the information that Snowden brought to light. That’s because Snowden has transformed the debate in this country—and in the world—over surveillance. Given that fact, it’s more than a little strange that the most famous whistleblower in recent U.S. history shouldn’t be here to speak up as we consider the results of his handiwork. Which is why it is time to bring Edward Snowden home to America and let him make the case for his freedom in front of a jury of his peers...The courts can settle this matter, but only if they are allowed to consider the legality of the secrets Snowden disclosed. USC-Berkeley Journalism Dean Edward Wasserman and Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler believe there should be a public interest defense to protect whistleblowers in cases like Snowden’s.

  • Faculty Weigh In FCC’s Ruling To Classify Internet as Telecommunications

    March 3, 2015

    Following the Federal Communication Commission's decision to classify the internet as a telecommunications service, thereby allowing the government to regulate it as a utility, Harvard professors praised the ruling considered a victory for net neutrality proponents....Beyond the decision’s positive impact on consumers, faculty members marked the political significance that the decision came into fruition. Yochai Benkler, Berkman Center faculty co-director and Law School professor, acknowledged that successful grassroots movements put pressure on legislators. “[The ruling is] a moment that can give us hope that even in the presence of enormous amounts of money in politics and one of the worst revolving door environments in Washington, people can still organize themselves to force politicians to do the right thing,” Benkler wrote in an email.

  • Want to Reform the NSA? Give Edward Snowden Immunity

    September 8, 2014

    An op-ed by Yochai Benkler. But national security is different. There are limited protections for internal whistleblowers, and none at all for those who go to the press. Defenders of that approach argue that the critical nature of national security justifies complete secrecy. But that very critical nature also means that mistakes can have devastating effects, while the secrecy that national-security organizations demand makes them more likely to get stuck in erroneous patterns. Secrecy disables many of the mechanisms that other systems use to correct failure dynamics.

  • Great for the Tea Party, bad for the people: How the 1 percent conquered Internet activism

    August 5, 2014

    Ten years ago, many political activists had high hopes for the Internet…From the world of academia, Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler argued that the Internet had enabled the rise of a new “networked public sphere” that was more open to diverse voices and less driven by big money, and that this new media system would nurture a politics that was more small-d democratic. Over the years, Benkler has pointed to a series of Net-driven successes, including the 2004 blogger-led boycott of Sinclair Broadcasting, the Diebold voting machine scandal, the many revelations published by WikiLeaks, and the grass-roots defeat of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) as proof of this power shift.

  • Illustration

    Faculty Viewpoints: Benkler on civil liberties and security in a post-9/11 networked world

    January 1, 2014

    This summer, when Chelsea Manning (then known as Private Bradley Manning) was on trial for passing hundreds of thousands of documents obtained from military computers to WikiLeaks, Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 testified for the defense. Benkler’s work—including his 2011 case study of the legal wrangling related to WikiLeaks—has put him in the middle of the debate over the balance between civil liberties and security in a post-9/11 networked world.

  • Harvard Law School media roundup: From the NSA scandal to the regulatory battles of a new taxi cab app

    June 17, 2013

    Over the past week, a number of HLS faculty members shared their viewpoints on events in the news. Here are some excerpts.

  • Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at HLS

    Briefs: Some memorable moments, milestones and a Miró

    October 1, 2012

    In October 1962, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Harvard Law School on “The Future of Integration.” It was six months before he would be imprisoned in a Birmingham jail, 10 months before the March on Washington, almost two years before the signing of the Civil Rights Act and almost six years before his assassination. “It may be that the law cannot make a man love me,” he said, “but it can keep him from lynching me.”

  • In new book, Benkler makes the case for “prosocial” systems design

    October 19, 2011

    For generations, the assumption that selfishness drives human behavior has shaped the design of social systems in which we live and work. In his new book “The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Triumph of Cooperation Over Self-Interest,” Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 rejects this assumption as a “myth” and proposes an alternative, refreshingly optimistic model that asserts our human traits of cooperation and collaboration.

  • Hearsay: Faculty short takes

    July 1, 2011

    “Private Manning’s Humiliation” Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and Bruce Ackerman, professor at Yale Law School
    The New York Review of Books
    April 28,…

  • Professor Yochai Benkler '94

    Benkler named Ford Foundation ‘Visionary’

    May 4, 2011

    Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler ‘94 has received a Ford Foundation Visionaries Award, it was announced April 29. The award was created in recognition of the 75th Anniversary of the Ford Foundation to celebrate social innovators from a variety of fields.

  • Yochai Benkler and Bruce Ackerman

    Benkler in The New York Review of Books: Private Manning’s Humiliation

    April 7, 2011

    In an open letter published recently in The New York Review of Books, Harvard Law School Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and co-author Bruce Ackerman, professor at Yale Law School, detail the detention of Bradley Manning, a US soldier charged with providing government documents to Wikileaks, and call on President Obama and the Pentagon to document grounds for what the authors describe as “illegal and immoral” confinement.

  • Professor Yochai Benkler '94

    Benkler argues against prosecution of WikiLeaks, detailing government and news media "overreaction"

    March 14, 2011

    Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 has released an article detailing U.S. government and news media censorship of WikiLeaks after the organization released the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and U.S. State department diplomatic cables in 2010. Among his key conclusions: The government overstated and overreacted to the WikiLeaks documents, and the mainstream news media followed suit by engaging in self-censorship. Benkler argues further that there is no sound Constitutional basis for a criminal prosecution of WikiLeaks or its leader, Julian Assange.

  • HLS Professor Yochai Benkler

    Berkman Broadband Study Stresses Open Access

    January 1, 2011

    In 2009, HLS Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society were commissioned by the FCC to do a study on broadband deployment throughout the world.

  • Professor Yochai Benkler '94

    Benkler on NPR: Newspaper of the Future

    July 19, 2010

    HLS Professor and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society Yochai Benkler recently appeared on NPR's On The Media to discuss the future of the production and exchange of information in our society. 

  • Faculty scholarship: Benkler on blogospheres

    May 12, 2010

    In April, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society announced a major research release: “A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right.” The study, based on research by HLS Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 and Berkman Research Fellow Aaron Shaw, examines the discursive practices of major U.S. political blogs on the left, right, and center during the summer of 2008.

  • Benkler in NYT: Ending the Internet’s trench warfare

    March 22, 2010

    HLS Professor Yochai Benkler ’94 wrote “Ending the Internet’s trench warfare,” an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times on March 21, 2010. Last summer, Benkler, the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard and faculty co-director of the Berkman Center, conducted a major independent review of existing literature and studies about broadband deployment and usage throughout the world, following a request by the Federal Communications Commission.

  • 2009 Year in Review: Faculty Publications

    December 14, 2009

    In their book,“No Place to Hide: Gang, State, and Clandestine Violence in El Salvador” (Harvard University Press, 2009), Clinical Professor James Cavallaro and Spring…