Attitudes toward free expression are evolving as more of our discourse takes place online and concerns about the growing preponderance of “lawful but awful” content and discourse mount.

In a world of growing polarization and extremism, many struggle to reconcile the value of a radically permissive free speech culture on the one hand, and support for inclusivity on the other. At the same time, certain elements of the political establishment are concerned about censorship, specifically that conservative speech is being stifled on social media platforms and college campuses.

Watch Washington Post Live’s discussion about the future of free expression.


Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago

On July 1, 2006, Robert J. Zimmer became the 13th President of the University of Chicago.

Prior to his appointment as President, Zimmer was a University of Chicago faculty member and administrator for more than two decades specializing in the mathematical fields of geometry, particularly ergodic theory, Lie groups, and differential geometry. As a University of Chicago administrator, Zimmer served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department, Deputy Provost, and Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He also served as Provost at Brown University from 2002-2006, returning to Chicago in 2006 to become President of the University.

As President of the University, he serves as Chair of the Board of Governors of Argonne National Laboratory; Chair of the Board of Directors of Fermi Research Alliance LLC, the operator of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory; and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Marine Biological Laboratory. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was a member of the National Science Board, the governing body of the National Science Foundation, from 2011 to 2016 and also served on the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science from 2008 to 2010.

Shoshana Zuboff, Author, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”

is the author of three books, each of which signaled the start of a new epoch in technological society. In the late 1980s her decade-in-the-making In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power became an instant classic that foresaw how computers would revolutionize the modern workplace. At the dawn of the twenty-first century her influential The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism (with James Maxmin), written before the invention of the iPod or Uber, predicted the rise of digitally-mediated products and services tailored to the individual. It warned of the individual and societal risks if companies failed to alter their approach to capitalism. Now her masterwork, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, synthesizes years of research and thinking in order to reveal a world in which technology users are neither customers, employees, nor products. Instead they are the raw material for new procedures of manufacturing and sales that define an entirely new economic order: a surveillance economy. She is the Charles Edward Wilson Professor Emerita at Harvard Business School and a former Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.

Roger McNamee, Author of “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe”

Roger McNamee is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, which documents his journey from mentor to Mark Zuckerberg to critic of Facebook. Since April 2017, Roger has been engaged in a campaign to address the dark side of social media.

Over the course of a thirty-four year career, Roger pioneered several categories of tech investing, co-founding Integral Capital Partners, Silver Lake Partners, and Elevation Partners. He has been married to songwriter Ann McNamee since 1983.

Content from The Knight Foundation

How is misinformation shaping the 2020 election?

According to recent polling from Gallup and Knight Foundation, 8 in 10 Americans are worried misinformation will sway the the vote. And a new study from German Marshall Fund finds Americans engaging with ever more false content online. Ambassador Karen Kornbluh and Sam Gill will discuss the implications for democracy as the nation goes to the polls.

Sam Gill, SVP and Chief Program Officer, Knight Foundation

Karen Kornbluh, Director, Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative and Sr Fellow, German Marshall Fund