POLSIS in the News | Professor Katharine Gelber on Social Media and Free Speech

29 January 2021

In recent weeks, Professor Katharine Gelber FASSA has been in the news to bring her expertise to bear on the free speech debate surrounding Donald Trump’s ban from social media, following the storming of the United States Capitol on 6 January. Prof Gelber appeared on Sky News Australia on 11 January. She published an article on 12 January in The Conversation, in which she pointed out that, ‘Free speech is not guaranteed if it harms others’ because

there is no free speech argument in existence that suggests an incitement of lawlessness and violence is protected speech

Kath spoke on ABC Tasmania’s ‘Drive’ radio show with presenter Piia Wirsu on 13 January about the definition of free speech in the internet age, and wrote in ABC Religion & Ethics on 12 January about Donald Trump's Twitter ban, and again on 27 January considering broader issues to do with social media regulation and freedom of speech. After having her 2020 interview on 'cancel culture' rebroadcast on ABC Radio National's The Minefield with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens on 20 January, she returned to that program to discuss the question: ‘Was Twitter right to suspend Trump?’ on 28 January.

Kath Gelber is Head of the School of Political Science and International Studies, and Professor of Politics and Public Policy. Her research is in the field of freedom of speech, and the regulation of public discourse. She has been awarded several ARC, and other, competitive research grants. In November-December 2017, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Global Freedom of Expression Project, Columbia University, New York. In Dec 2017, she jointly hosted, with Prof Susan Brison, a workshop at the Princeton University Center for Human Values on, 'Free Speech and its Discontents'. In 2014, with Prof Luke McNamara, she was awarded the Mayer journal article prize for the best article in the Australian Journal of Political Science in 2013. In 2011 she was invited by the United Nations to be the Australian Expert Witness at a regional meeting examining States' compliance with the free speech and racial hatred provisions of international law. In 2009 she presented the Mitchell Oration in Adelaide on the topic 'Freedom of Speech and its Limits'. She is the author of three monographs (Free Speech After 9/11, OUP 2016; Speech Matters, UQP, 2011, Speaking Back, John Benjamins, 2002), and three edited books including Free Speech in the Digital Age, OUP 2019.


Image credits: Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto via Getty Images (banner image); Alex Brandon/AP (The Conversation headline); ABC Radio National's The Minefield; POLSIS, UQ