Tuesday, January 25, 2022

As lawmakers mull curbs on social media, Haugen weighing in

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Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaves after giving proof to the joint committee for the Draft Online Safety Bill, as a part of British authorities plans for social media regulation, on the Houses of Parliament, in London, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021. After Haugen revealed Facebook’s failings to curb on-line hate and extremism and shield younger customers from dangerous content material, U.S. lawmakers are placing ahead proposals to curb social media giants by limiting their free-speech protections towards authorized legal responsibility. Credit: AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File

U.S. lawmakers are placing ahead proposals to curb social media giants by limiting their free-speech protections towards authorized legal responsibility.

Their efforts are coming after a former Facebook product supervisor offered a case that the corporate’s methods amplify on-line hate and extremism and fail to guard younger customers from dangerous content material.

That whistleblower, Frances Haugen, is anticipated to weigh in on the lawmakers’ proposals at a House listening to on Wednesday. Her earlier disclosures have spurred legislative and regulatory efforts all over the world aimed toward cracking down on Big Tech, and she or he made a sequence of appearances not too long ago earlier than European lawmakers and officers who’re drawing up guidelines for .

Haugen, an information scientist who labored in Facebook’s civic integrity unit, buttressed her assertions with a large trove of inner firm paperwork she secretly copied and offered to federal securities regulators and Congress.

When she made her first public look this fall, laying out a far-reaching condemnation of the social community big earlier than a Senate Commerce subcommittee, she had ideas on how Facebook’s platforms may very well be made safer and prescriptions for actions by Congress. She rejected the concept of breaking apart the tech big as many lawmakers are calling for, favoring as a substitute focused legislative treatments.

Most notably, they embody new curbs on the long-standing authorized protections for speech posted on . Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have referred to as for stripping away a number of the protections granted by a provision in a 25-year-old legislation—commonly known as Section 230—that shields web corporations from legal responsibility for what customers submit.

Facebook and different social media corporations use pc algorithms to rank and suggest content material. They govern what exhibits up on customers’ information feeds. Haugen’s concept is to take away the protections in instances the place dominant content material pushed by algorithms favors large engagement by customers over .

That’s the thought behind the Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act, which was launched by senior House Democrats a couple of week after Haugen testified to the Senate panel in October. The invoice would maintain social media corporations accountable by eradicating their safety beneath Section 230 for tailor-made suggestions to customers which might be deemed to trigger hurt. A platform would lose the immunity in instances the place it “knowingly or recklessly” promoted .

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding Wednesday’s listening to on the invoice and different proposed laws to curb abuses in social media platforms. The senior Democrats on the committee, together with Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, introduced ahead the invoice concentrating on algorithms.

“The committee has seen mounting evidence that when social media companies are faced with the choice between making more money or protecting public health and safety, they will continue to choose money,” Pallone mentioned not too long ago. “The lack of transparency within these companies has serious repercussions for all Americans. The time for self-regulation is over. Congress must now come together in a bipartisan way to thoughtfully consider proposals that bring about real accountability.”

Some specialists who help stricter regulation of social media say the laws might have unintended penalties. It does not clarify sufficient which particular algorithmic behaviors would result in lack of the legal responsibility safety, they counsel, making it onerous to see how it might work in observe and resulting in extensive disagreement over what it’d truly do.

Meta Platforms, the brand new title of Facebook’s dad or mum firm, has declined to remark on particular legislative proposals. The says it has lengthy advocated for up to date rules.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has advised adjustments that may solely give web platforms authorized if they will show that their methods for figuring out unlawful content material are as much as snuff. That requirement, nevertheless, may be harder for smaller tech corporations and startups to satisfy, main critics to cost that it might in the end favor Facebook.

Other social corporations have urged warning in any legislative adjustments to Section 230.


Ex-Facebook worker asks lawmakers to step in. Will they?


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