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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel says his company has managed to avoid heavy criticism over speech issues by clearly dividing private, largely unregulated communications from heavily moderated public broadcasts.

Why it matters: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all struggled in recent years over where to draw the line on permitted speech.

What they're saying: Responding to a question from Axios while speaking at the DLD conference in Munich on Sunday, Spiegel said that Snapchat has modeled how it treats speech after existing institutions "One of the things we have been able to do is borrow significantly from history," Spiegel said.

  • In private communication, Spiegel said, people expect a conversation to remain private — and if the government wants access, it needs to get a warrant.
  • By contrast, he said, broadcasters have always been subject to a range of restrictions. "There's a different level of responsibility when you are talking to an audience that's that large," he said.

Online platforms' biggest problems lie in the middle ground between these two, Spiegel said — here, there have been powerfully positive uses of social media, but also incredibly damaging ones.

  • "I think as a society we haven't yet decided how we want to tackle that and think about that new tool," he said. "I do think that is sort of the existential question of the moment."
  • That uncertainty, he said, is showing up in the debate over whether to revisit Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which legally protects platforms that post users' speech.

Snapchat plays in the middle ground, too, but it does so cautiously, whereas that space is where Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all built their empires.

  • On Snapchat, user-generated public stories can get pulled into stories around major public events on the Snap Map.
  • These stories can be widely consumed by anyone publicly, but are designed to be consumed at a more local level — by users who are located near a natural disaster, for instance.

Be smart: Spiegel's "look to the broadcasters" argument is one he's been refining for years (here he is making it in 2018). That means he's learned another old rule of broadcasting: You have to tell people the same thing over and over again before they will get the message.

Go deeper: Snap continues its acquisition spree with video animation startup

Go deeper

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.