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A model of debates: Moderation vs free speech

Speaker: Professor Andy Zapechelnyuk, School of Economics and Finance

Abstract: This paper provides a framework to study communication conflicts, such as political debates, using a novel model of competition in Bayesian persuasion. Debating parties can frame their arguments for maximal impact. They also can spam the discussion to distract the audience from the opponent's arguments. We find that spamming is more detrimental than framing. Truth discovery requires moderation by restricting the number of arguments that parties can make. When the parties are allowed to speak freely, spamming can kill truth discovery and make communication completely uninformative. By contrast, framing is disciplined by competition. If the conflict between the parties is strong and the number of arguments is restricted, the parties reveal the truth.