Cheap Friendship

13 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2021

See all articles by Jane R. Bambauer

Jane R. Bambauer

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Saura Masconale

The University of Arizona Department of Political Economy and Moral Science; Center for the Philosophy of Freedom

Simone M. Sepe

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law; University of Toulouse 1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole; Toulouse School of Economics; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); American College of Governance Counsel

Date Written: September 23, 2021

Abstract

This Essay argues that the Internet law and policy community has misdiagnosed the causes of political polarization. Rather, more precisely, it has missed a major contributing cause. The dominant theories focus on Big Tech (e.g., the filter bubbles that curate Internet content with self-interested goals at the expense of democratic functioning) and on faulty cognition (e.g., human tendencies to favor sensationalism and tribal dogmatism). Cheap speech, according to these dominant theories, provides the fuel and fodder.

We offer an explanation that is at once more banal and more resistant to policy interventions: cheap friendship.

Keywords: Internet, the web, internet law and policy, Big Tech, internet content, faulty cognition, cheap speech, cheap friendship, social media, social networks, political polarization

Suggested Citation

Yakowitz Bambauer, Jane R. and Masconale, Saura and Sepe, Simone M., Cheap Friendship (September 23, 2021). 54 UC Davis Law Review 2341 (2021), Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 21-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3930327

Jane R. Yakowitz Bambauer (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

Saura Masconale

The University of Arizona Department of Political Economy and Moral Science; Center for the Philosophy of Freedom ( email )

315 Social Science Building
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Simone M. Sepe

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States

University of Toulouse 1 - Université Toulouse 1 Capitole ( email )

2 Rue du Doyen-Gabriel-Marty
Toulouse, 31042
France

Toulouse School of Economics ( email )

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Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

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1000 Brussels
Belgium

American College of Governance Counsel ( email )

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New York, NY 10018
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