Social Media, Political Polarization, & Free Speech

March 17, 2022

How has social media shifted the way we consume and share information? Has the surge of digital platforms driven (or not) America’s growing political divide? What policies can balance the protection of free speech with malicious disinformation campaigns?

The Goldfarb Center hosted a high-level panel discussion, tackling these questions and more and exploring the nexus between social media, political polarization, and free speech. Panelists included Roger McNamee, a tech venture capitalist and author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe; Renée DiResta, technical director of Stanford Internet Observatory; and Chris Vlasto, an ABC News senior executive producer. Kimberly Flowers, executive director of the Goldfarb Center, moderated the conversation.

For more information on Roger McNamee, please visit

This event was part of our speaking series that relates to the Goldfarb Center’s annual theme of freedom of speech. The in-person event will be open to the entire Colby community. A recording is available for a limited time to the Colby community only. 

After the event, McNamee signed copies of his book, Zucked, that will be given to the first 100 audience members. As always, we will have a dessert bar and Goldfarb Center swag. 


Renée DiResta
Roger McNamee
Chris Vlasto
Chris Vlasto

Renée DiResta is the Technical Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, a cross-disciplinary program of research, teaching and policy engagement for the study of abuse in current information technologies. Renee investigates the spread of malign narratives across social and media networks. Her work examines the ways in which distinct actors types leverage the information ecosystem to exert influence, from local activists promoting health misinformation and conspiracy theories, to well-resourced full-spectrum information operations executed by state-sponsored actors. 

Renée has advised Congress, the State Department, and other academic, civic, and business organizations. At the behest of SSCI, she led outside teams investigating both the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency’s multi-year effort to manipulate American society and elections, and the GRU influence campaign deployed alongside its hack-and-leak operations in the 2016 election. Renée is an Ideas contributor at Wired and The Atlantic, an Emerson Fellow, a 2019 Truman National Security Project fellow, a 2019 Mozilla Fellow in Media, Misinformation, and Trust, a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, and a Council on Foreign Relations term member. 

Roger McNamee has been a Silicon Valley investor for 35 years. He co-founded successful funds in venture, crossover and private equity. His most recent fund, Elevation, included U2’s Bono as a co-founder. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. Roger plays bass and guitar in the bands Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System and is the author of Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe,The New Normal and The Moonalice Legend: Posters and Words, Volumes 1-9. He has served as a technical advisor for seasons two through six of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” series and was also responsible for raising the money that created the Wikimedia Foundation. 

Chris Vlasto is an Emmy award-winning senior executive producer for investigative reporting at ABC News and former executive producer of Good Morning America. Vlasto produced the reports which first broadcast the allegations about President Clinton’s association with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Vlasto also covered the September 11 attacks, Florida recount, Oklahoma City bombing, and OJ Simpson Trial. Vlasto has won more than a dozen awards including the Edward R. Murrow Award and Joan Barone Award.