Future Tense

Tumblr and Facebook Reps Discuss “The Business of the Internet”

On April 28, Tumblr Vice President Andrew McLaughlin and Marne Levine, vice president for global public policy for Facebook, sat down with BloggingHeads honcho Robert Wright to discuss “The Business of the Internet.” But the Future Tense conversation, held as part of the New America Foundation’s annual retreat, wasn’t just about profit. As McLaughlin points out early in the conversation, Tumblr is “not actually making any money” yet, anyway. Instead, Wright, McLaughlin, and Levine focused on some of the trickiest questions facing Internet entrepreneurs, like whether to do business in authoritarian countries and how to determine whether to give user information to governments.

The conversation is long—nearly an hour—but for anyone interested in the future of social media and digital business, it will go by quickly.

If you only have a few minutes to get your Internet-policy fix, tune in to the 18:30 mark. McLaughlin (whose résumé also includes stints as head of global public policy for Google and deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration) puts on his “Stanford lecturer in law” hat to explain clearly the considerations facing any Internet company considering going international. “There’s two broad issues when you’re an Internet company,” he says. “One is censorship and the limitations of speech, and one is surveillance and the surrendering of your users’ data to government. They’re related, but they’re distinct.” Watch the video below to hear the rest of his and Levine’s remarks.