The Columbia University sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh studies exclusive worlds by embedding himself — with a crack-selling gang, sex workers, the teenage children of billionaires, and most recently, at the highest levels of companies at the vanguard of the digital revolution, including Facebook and Twitter. And now he’s hosting a podcast. In each episode, Venkatesh will reveal what he learned in Silicon Valley and talk with the people he met along the way who are building and running the digital world, and those who are using it in a signal way, digging deep into their motivations and challenging their priorities. Sudhir Breaks the Internet is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.
Meet the Brain Behind Facebook’s Oversight Board
Last week, the board upheld the ban of former President Donald Trump’s social media accounts. Sudhir talks to Noah Feldman, the constitutional law scholar who helped design this “supreme court” for content moderation. They reveal the inside story of how the idea came about, how the court was built, and ask big questions, like … will anyone trust it?
“Someone Needs to Save the World from Silicon Valley”
If the big social-media companies are unable or unwilling to make major changes from within, it may be up to outsiders to create better, healthier digital communities. Whether it’s smaller platforms for like-minded people, a publicly owned social network, self-policing by user groups, or activist campaigns to pressure Twitter and Facebook to improve, Sudhir explores what’s next for social media — and what makes societies function or fail.
The Garbage Can Model of Decision Making
What's it like to try and police millions of pieces of abusive content every day? Sudhir takes us inside Facebook, as he and his former colleagues recall how hard it was to encourage civility at a company obsessed with growth — especially when that growth was often driven by some of the most toxic behaviors.
Designed to Tear Us Apart
When online anger turned to offline violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the big social media companies responded by kicking some users — including the president himself — off their platforms. What led to that decision? Was it an overreach? And what role did they really play in the events that took place? Sudhir explores how social media is built to encourage bad behavior, and why one afternoon of unrest can’t overcome a decades-old mindset in Silicon Valley that blinds them to this reality.
Introducing “Sudhir Breaks the Internet”
Sudhir Venkatesh, a sociologist who has studied crack gangs, sex workers, and gun runners, suddenly found himself working at Facebook, and later at Twitter. Now he’s back from Silicon Valley to explore and explain our overheated digital universe. “Sudhir Breaks the Internet” is a production of the Freakonomics Radio Network.
Human element behind tech companies and algorithms
I was really blown away by the second episode of this podcast. We often only see one side of a tech company and feel like they use algorithm to manipulate and managed its users. However, in the second episode I got a tiny glimpse into the very human side of some teams in the company; how this team tries to make a difference and how hard it is. Some of the problems are really big and I have no idea how it can all be solved, but knowing there are people out there who are trying their best to chip away and hoping to make a difference gives me hope. Thank you for sharing your stories and ideas.
Sudbury is fascinating!
The first episode is a fascinating look behind the curtain at big social media companies. Looking forward to more!
A big fan of Sudhir’s work but...
I’m a big fan of Sudhir’s work but so far I find him to be a bit of an apologist for the tech industry on this project. I would hoped he took more of an outsider looking in approach rather than the insider looking out into the broader world. Still looking forward to future episodes and hope he takes this a slightly different direction in the future.