The hold digital platforms have on us

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The rise in popularity of digital platforms has affected the way people communicate and access information, the two building blocks of freedom of expression. This thesis explores the ways in which freedom of expression works and shows the value of free speech for individuals and societies. Several arguments illustrate why and how digital platforms affect a number of these functions, among others through data tracking, algorithms and bypassing consent. The affected functions of free speech that are analyzed are autonomy, self-ownership and rights, truth and knowledge, and the republican ideal. Using Robert Nozick’s deontological libertarian framework, this thesis makes an unlikely argument in favor of state intervention in the working of digital platforms, as they violate the moral side constraints and entitlement theory of justice that are central to a Nozickian approach. To analyze how a deontological libertarian framework would function empirically, the 2020 EU and 2021 U.S. proposals for state intervention are analyzed, focusing on non-violation of autonomy. The empirical analysis shows that some things can be considered acceptable, while other parts of the proposals are violations of moral side constraints.
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