If Facebook Is the Problem, Is a Social Media Regulator the Fix?

Facebook whistleblower wants a devoted regulatory company to supervise firms like Facebook over its impact on teens


Reuters October 06, 2021
PHOTO: REUTERS

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen informed Congress on Tuesday that one choice for making social media much less dangerous could be to create a devoted regulatory company to supervise firms like Facebook, and will have former tech employees on employees.

“Right now, the only people in the world who are trained to … understand what’s happening inside of Facebook, are individuals who grew up inside Facebook or Pinterest or one other social media firm,” she mentioned throughout a hearing earlier than a Senate Commerce Committee panel.

Haugen, a former product supervisor at the firm, mentioned the revenue motive was robust sufficient that Facebook, which owns Instagram, wouldn’t change with out strain. “Until incentives change at Facebook, we should not expect Facebook to change. We need action from Congress,” she mentioned.

Haugen additionally mentioned that if she have been made CEO of Facebook, she would instantly set up a coverage that might enable it to share inner analysis with Congress and different oversight our bodies, calling for transparency and public scrutiny of Facebook’s methods, algorithms and analysis into the impacts of its websites.

Facebook’s Lina Pietsch mentioned the firm had itself lengthy referred to as for presidency oversight. “We have been calling for updated regulations ourselves for two and a half years,” she mentioned.

It has beforehand referred to as for regulation of the web, together with a digital regulator, significantly a reform of Section 230 to provide the firms immunity from legal responsibility provided that they observe greatest practices.

At the listening to, lawmakers didn’t push again at Haugen’s solutions for reform however, in lots of instances, pointed to laws that might do one thing related.

A bipartisan group of senators, together with Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn, launched a invoice in June that might require large web platforms together with Facebook to permit customers to view content material that has not been determined by an algorithm.

Haugen additionally inspired lawmakers to reform Section 230. She urged the legislation be modified to carry firms accountable for his or her algorithms, which regularly resolve what social media customers see once they check in.

“They (companies) have 100 percent control over their algorithms and Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth and virality and reactiveness over public safety. They shouldn’t get a free pass on that because they’re paying for their profits right now with our safety,” she mentioned.

Haugen additionally inspired elevating age limits for customers of Facebook’s platforms from 13 to 16 or 18, given what she known as “problematic use” or dependancy on the websites and youngsters’s points with self-regulation.

Under present legislation, youngsters 12 and underneath have extra safety on-line than youngsters. There is a invoice earlier than Congress to lift the age to fifteen, amongst different modifications.

Facebook introduced in late September, shortly after a report primarily based largely on paperwork from Haugen that Instagram was dangerous to youngsters, that it was pausing its work on a model of Instagram aimed toward youthful customers.

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