6 episodes

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.

Sudhir Breaks the Internet Freakonomics Radio + Stitcher

    • Technology
    • 3.8 • 249 Ratings

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.

    5. Can Outside Pressure Change Silicon Valley?

    5. Can Outside Pressure Change Silicon Valley?

    How has activism evolved in our digital society? In this episode, Sudhir talks to Jade Magnus Ogunnaike about the intersection of big tech and civil rights. She is a senior campaign director for Color of Change. It’s a racial justice organization that blends traditional organizing efforts with an updated playbook for how to make change. 

    • 26 min
    4. Meet the Brain Behind Facebook’s Oversight Board

    4. 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?

    • 35 min
    3. “Someone Needs to Save the World from Silicon Valley”

    3. “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.

    • 35 min
    2. The Garbage Can Model of Decision Making

    2. 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. 

    • 39 min
    1. Designed to Tear Us Apart

    1. 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.

    • 36 min
    Introducing “Sudhir Breaks the Internet”

    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.

    • 2 min

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5
249 Ratings

249 Ratings

Ana Teresa R ,

Insider View

Incredible podcast, I saw all things mentioned working at a tech giant. This is a great resource to learn about start up vices. Hopefully they’ll release a 2nd season!

GlennWatson ,

Inside defends big tech

The lack of awareness this guy has for his own bias is astounding. Somehow he sees himself as open minded despite being completely in the pocket of the men who own the Internet’s most popular sights. This podcast does give the discerning listener an inside look at how truly corrupt these platforms are.

Different_Drummer ,

Sudhir destroys his credibility

This series was disappointing. I really thought Sudhir’s earlier work with gangs was fascinating and was very excited to hear this podcast. However, it fails to impress, and actually makes me start to question his credibility.

I was expecting him to speak on the effect of social media on society from a sociologists perspective. Although the podcast started out that way, it seems more and more he is using this as a vehicle to expound his leftist viewpoints.

Dude, you have the choice of being a social scientist, or a political activist, but you can’t do both at the same time. I question his credibility, because he used a quotation taken out of context, and spent significant time in one episode interviewing and supporting the ultra biased opinions of a political agitator without critical examination. It seems Sudhir is fueling the problem for which he is claiming to have a solution.

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