Author: David Riggs

Product Hunt Radio: ‘Tinder babies’ and the power of connecting people online and offline

In this episode of Product Hunt Radio, I’m in Los Angeles talking to Brian Norgard and Jeff Morris Jr., both of whom may be indirectly responsible for a new term, “Tinder babies.”

Brian Norgard is an entrepreneur, investor and chief product officer at Tinder. He has worked on a number of other products and was Tinder’s first acquisition. He collaborated with Sean Rad on an earlier app called Chill, which we discuss on the podcast. Brian is also an investor in Lyft, SpaceX and AngelList.

Jeff Morris Jr. is the director of Product for Tinder’s revenue initiatives. He previously worked at Zaarly and has created a number of products, including one stretch over three months where he built and launched three products, reaching the top of Product Hunt. He is also an investor in Lyft, CryptoKitties, Particle, Brat and others.

In this episode:

  • The joy of turning online connections into real-world connections. Jeff is great at this. He once went biking with Lance Armstrong in Hawaii after reaching out to Armstrong on Twitter.
  • How seemingly minor design decisions, like adding a subtle animation to a play button, can “nudge” users into a new pattern of behavior and make products more enjoyable to use.
  • Brian and Jeff discuss the design of Tinder Places, including the thoughtfulness that went into the privacy features of the product, and how they took inspiration from Foursquare.
  • We get nostalgic and discuss some of our favorite products from the past, like Chill and Highlight. They leveraged location on mobile in an attempt to merge the online and offline world.
  • Jeff tells the story of the time he reached out on Twitter about a job opportunity and less than 48 hours later had moved from San Francisco to Kansas City.
  • Why Product Hunt has gained a reputation as a positive, fun and upbeat community and how subtle, very intentional design decisions — like our ridiculous Google Glass-sporting cat — contribute to the community and brand.

Of course, we also chat about some of their favorite products, including messaging apps, trivia games as well as a couple of now-obsolete apps that were onto something at the time but didn’t end up taking off.

We’ll be back next week, so be sure to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Breaker, Overcast or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.

The consequences of indecency

I wrote the law that allows sites to be unfettered free speech marketplaces. I wrote that same law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, to provide vital protections to sites that didn’t want to host the most unsavory forms of expression. The goal was to protect the unique ability of the internet to be the proverbial marketplace of ideas while ensuring that mainstream sites could reflect the ethics of society as a whole.

In general, this has been a success — with one glaring exception. I never expected that internet CEOs would fail to understand one simple principle: that an individual endorsing (or denying) the extermination of millions of people, or attacking the victims of horrific crimes or the parents of murdered children, is far more indecent than an individual posting pornography.

If you want to be the CEO of an internet titan where schools communicate with students, artists with their fans or elected officials with their constituents, you need to limit content like pornography — and they all do. But for some reason, these CEOs think it’s entirely appropriate to allow these other forms of indecency to live on their platforms. Their ineptitude is threatening the very legal foundation of social media.

There are real consequences to social media hosting radically indecent speech, and those consequences are looming.

Social media cannot exist without the legal protections of Section 230. That protection is not constitutional, it’s statutory. Failure by the companies to properly understand the premise of the law is the beginning of the end of the protections it provides. I say this because their failures are making it increasingly difficult for me to protect Section 230 in Congress. Members across the spectrum, including far-right House and Senate leaders, are agitating for government regulation of internet platforms. Even if government doesn’t take the dangerous step of regulating speech, just eliminating the 230 protections is enough to have a dramatic, chilling effect on expression across the internet.

Were Twitter to lose the protections I wrote into law, within 24 hours its potential liabilities would be many multiples of its assets and its stock would be worthless. The same for Facebook and any other social media site. Boards of directors should have taken action long before now against CEOs who refuse to recognize this threat to their business.

It’s telling that Reddit, of all the social media sites, has been on the forefront of striking a balance — telling because they’re the only site owned by a traditional pre-internet corporation. This balance is not the one I would have chosen — and certainly there have been missteps and failures — but an average user of Reddit won’t encounter the extremes of obscenity and indecency that it allows in darker corners of the site. And even they have defined certain speech as too indecent to be permitted on their platform.

There are real consequences to social media hosting radically indecent speech, and those consequences are looming. They are threatening to undo more than 20 years of internet law and jurisprudence that has protected speech and expression as never before. The forces of government regulation and control never sleep. Unfortunately, the internet CEOs have been asleep at the wheel.