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Past Event

Cass Sunstein: Liars, Deception and Free Speech

There have always been officials in the political arena who lie to appease their constituents and undermine their opponents. In recent years, lying and falsehoods have only worsened. All over the world, people circulate and amplify damaging lies through social media platforms that influence the masses. These untruths serve to plant seeds of doubt in everyday citizens, citizens who can no longer tell what’s real and what’s fake. In his new book Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception, legal scholar and Harvard professor Cass Sunstein seeks to understand society’s role in regulating lies and falsehoods without threatening the right to freedom of speech.

Generally, he says society must allow lies to circulate to some extent; the government cannot make unbiased judgements about what counts as "fake news.” Still, public officials and private institutions, such as Facebook and Twitter, have the responsibility to regulate the kinds of falsehoods that endanger health, safety and the capacity of the public to govern itself. Sunstein says that as of now, we are allowing far too many lies that both threaten public health and undermine the foundations of democracy itself.

Join us for a conversation with Cass Sunstein as he discusses the tactics used by powerful figures to spread lies, and shows how the government and private institutions can control false information.


This program was rescheduled from March 9.

This is a free-for-members program. Members: Click on the "Buy Tickets" button above to order your tickets, and select the members link on the left side of the page. Your username is the email you used to sign up as a member. You can also request a password reset if needed. Discount will automatically be applied at checkout.

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Copies of Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception are available for purchase during checkout. Purchased books will be sent to the address provided at checkout (domestic U.S. addresses only)

This is an online-only program; pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

We can accommodate a limited amount of complimentary access for those for whom cost is a barrier. Please email

March 30, 2021

United States

Image - Cass Sunstein
Cass Sunstein
Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University; Author, Liars: Falsehoods and Free Speech in an Age of Deception
Image - Kirk Hanson
In Conversation with Kirk Hanson
Senior Fellow and Former Executive Director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University

4:15–5:15 p.m. (Pacific Time) program