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IDH Interns Assignments, Media Law, Fall 2021

Assignment 1B: Applying Case Law

For Assignment 1B, let's practice using a legal hypothetical.  The game is how well you can use three cases -- Synder, Schenck, and Brown v. Entertainment -- and rhetorical theory (ideal versus real audience, etc.) to answer the scenario. 

Be creative on this one.  We want to figure out how your brains work.  Don't worry about the "right" answer: Think about the rules of the cases, what the Justices are saying, and what we already taught you in Comm 175 (e.g., clear and present danger versus bad tendency).

After electing Lil Nas X as Governor in 2023 -- and after listening to the Facebook whistleblower testify to Congress last week --  the State of Minnesota became concerned that Instagram was harmful to young women (and a form of "intentional infliction of emotional distress") and passed a law banning Instagram posts that present negative body images to children under 18.  The State of Minnesota partners with a tech company ("WokeBot 4.0") to use algorithms to screen all Instagram posts that it believes present negative body images.

Jennifer Patience is a social media influencer ("College Chronicles"), focused on feminism and chronic illness and growing a national audience of young females concerned with negative stereotypes about disability.  WokeBot flagged her Instagram account -- and the State of Minnesota charged her with a crime -- after a local mom complained that her 17 year old daughter was triggered by one of Ms. Patience's  posts, which presented an anorexic model from the 90s and said "Sick is Sexy, Right?"  (The daughter does not follow College Chronicles on Instagram, but Ms. Patience's post was shared by one of the daughter's Instagram friends.) Patience sued under the First Amendment and argued that her post was an ironic hot take on contemporary beauty standards.  She then hired you to defend her case.

Can you help Ms. Patience out?  (Especially since the IDH is in fact -- under the leadership of Research Director Annie Sallee -- working on a podcast on chronic illness?)


Week Two Quiz: Big Data

Medical algorithms are emerging as a new industry in need of regulation and reform.  And we need to make sure you understand the core concepts from Big Data: A Revolution.

Review these two articles on medical algorithms. Then -- in 2-3 sentences for each entry -- pick three of the five concepts from Big Data: A Revolution (More, Messy, Datafication, Value, and Correlation) to "translate" the concerns about medical algorithms in the article into the language of Big Data: A Revolution.

In other words: Pick the 3 "Big Data: A Revolution" concepts that you think are the biggest problem with medical algorithms and then, using the articles, explain why.

This is only a quiz. Don't overthink it.  Keep it easy.

Article One:

Article Two:

Week Two: Discussion
IDH Workout Room

The purpose of the IDH Workout room is to practice translating -- into public language (and especially social media) -- the research you are doing in the classes.

Follow the instructions for how the IDH Workout Room works.  Here's your prompt for the week.

In two weeks, the City of Minneapolis will vote on whether to defund the police.  The IDH takes NO position on defunding.  But we are worried that -- in many cities -- when defund happens, predictive policing steps in.  No matter what sides of the aisle you are on, the IDH believes that predictive policing -- for Axis of Facts, Bias, and Storytelling reasons -- currently has too many problems to be Constitutional or ethical.  (Which is why we have both Democrats and Republicans working with us on this issue.)

For this week's IDH workout room. we want you to practice talking about this issue as a future digital media communications professional who is working with the IDH as a client. After reading the IDH's White Paper on predictive policing, pick the issue the issue of unreliabiilty that you see a the biggest problem and practice making a social media post (with a link to an article; plenty of research is already in the white paper) that makes your case.

How you "argue" this is up to you.  We are only interested in getting you better at "higher level" social media client work.  Your audience for this assignment will be conservative Christians in Minneapolis.  Think about how you persuade them.

Assignment 2A:
Collaborative Research

For your Assignment 2A, you research project will be on medical algorithms. Specifically, we'll be looking at racial disparities in medical algorithms. (For a high-profile example, take a look at how the NFL handled brain injury claims in the past). Follow the instructions in the IDH Handbook on Annotations.  Focus on evidence that helps us answer Axis of Facts, Bias, and Storytelling problems on medical algorithms as they pertain to racial disparities.

Put your annotations here.  Follow our formatting.  Put them in the right section. You got this.

Week Three:
IDH Podcast Game


Just like the title says. Click here for your instructions.

Week Four

Pathos Project Assignment:

In a bold move that sent the stock market soaring, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has hired the IDH to rethink his platofrm's rules about deplatforming violent political speech.  Seeking to gain a market advantage over Facebook's Supreme Court -- by making Twitter's "Deplatforming Court" based on actual First Amendment law (and rhetorical theory) -- he has hired you to write a memo to outline the new policy by analyzing the case (which will be "Case Zero" in their precedents) of President Trump's January 6th communications.

What Dorsey wants is a rule for deplatforming political speech that is in accordance with Supreme Court precedents on speech that "incites violence."   

The memo is in two parts.

Part One: Using the cases we've discussed in class -- and here's a hint: If you aren't using Elonis you are probably getting this wrong -- write up a 2-3 page memo (citing relevant cases, IDH research on January 6th, and rhetorical theory) run an analysis of President Trump's 1.6.21 rhetoric to see if it is or is not protected by the First Amendment.

Part Two: Once you've figured out the rules about Trump's rhetoric (and made a decision), Dorsey wants you to decide if different rules need to apply for (a) elected officials and (b) regular citizens when Twitter is deciding whether to deplatform someone.  (I.e., if someone other than an elected official said the same stuff, should the same rules apply?)

Remember: Dorsey is trying to figure out the rules for "inciting violence."   Stick to that question for now.  He'll bring us back for another meeting re: other things Twitter might want to regulate.

Pro Tip: Use the IDH memo formats to complete this assignment.  Two memos (one for part 1 and one for part 2) might be easier.  McKain is guessing this takes 2 (single spaced) pages for one memo.  Or 3-4 if you combine them.  But if you can do it shorter, that's always ok.  The key is to (a) prove you understand the relevant law and (b) make a clear, informed argument.


Pro Tip: Review the video on how to take law exams.  The trick is to show -- as much as possible -- that you understand ALL of the cases that apply. Then use yer brains to make the best argument.

Pro Tip: Use this existing IDH research on January 6th first.  (Remember: The tweets were taken down.)   But grab more if you need it.  (We also migrated the Northerner website this weekend; we'll have Weston grab the stuff from January 6th and repost it here on Monday.)

Cases You'll 100% Need: Schecnk, Elonis, Brandenburg

Cases That Might Help: R.A.V., Zizek's theories of violence, Synder, Hustler, Chaplinksy, Brown v. Entertainment

Submit these on Moodle.  Only use Word.  You got this.

Week Six: Ethos I
Privacy and Surveillance

Privacy Teams:

Team A: Rachel and Kadija

Team B: Richard and Micah

Team C: Caleb and Josiah

Team D: Nick and Leonel

Our topic for the Ethos Project Assignment will be Student Data Privacy.  More details this week.

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