Friday, January 28, 2022

WATCH LIVE: Home Hearing on Social Media Reform with Facebook Informant Francis Haugen

WASHINGTON (AP) – US lawmakers are pushing proposals to rein in the social media giants by limiting their defense of free speech from legal liability.

The event starts at 10:30 am ET. Observe your hearing in the player above.

Their efforts came after a former Facebook product manager presented a case where the company’s systems exacerbate online hate and extremism and fail to protect young users from malicious content.

READ MORE: Millions of people use private messaging apps to stay connected. They ripened with misinformation

The whistleblower, Francis Haugen, is expected to give his views on the legislators’ proposals at a House hearing on Wednesday. Her previous revelations have spurred legislative and regulatory efforts around the world to tackle big technology, and she recently appeared on several occasions before European lawmakers and officials who are drafting rules for social media companies.

Haugen, a data scientist who worked for Facebook’s civil integrity division, backed up her claims with a vast array of internal company documents, which she secretly copied and made available to federal securities regulators and Congress.

When she first appeared in public this fall, laying out a far-reaching denunciation of the social media giant in front of the Senate Trade Subcommittee, she had thoughts on how to make Facebook platforms more secure and congressional prescriptions. She has rejected the idea of ​​dividing the tech giant, which has been called for by many lawmakers, favoring targeted legislative remedies.

In particular, they include new restrictions on long-standing legal protections for speech posted on social media. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for the removal of some of the protections provided by a 25-year-old provision of law commonly known as Section 230, which protects Internet companies from liability for what users post.

Facebook and other social media companies use computer algorithms to rank and recommend content. They control what is displayed on users’ news feeds. Haugen’s idea is to remove protection in cases where the dominant content, driven by algorithms, prefers massive participation of public safety users.

That’s the idea behind the Malicious Algorithms Justice Act, which was introduced by senior House Democrats about a week after Haugen testified before the Senate College in October. The bill would make social media companies liable by removing section 230 protections for making individual recommendations to users believed to be causing harm. The platform loses its immunity in cases when it “knowingly or inadvertently” promotes malicious content.

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee is holding hearings Wednesday on the bill and other proposed laws to curb social media abuse. High-ranking Democrats on the committee, including New Jersey-based Congressman Frank Pallone, have pushed the targeting algorithms bill.

“The committee has received growing 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 said recently. “The lack of transparency in these companies has serious implications for all Americans. The time for self-regulation is over. Now Congress must unite in a bipartisan fashion to thoughtfully consider proposals that will lead to real accountability. ”

Some experts who support stricter regulation of social media say the law could have unintended consequences. They suggest that it is not clear enough about which particular algorithmic behavior will lead to a loss of liability protection, making it difficult to understand how it will work in practice and leading to widespread disagreement about what it might actually do.

Meta Platforms, the new name of Facebook’s parent company, declined to comment on specific legislative proposals. The company says it has long advocated updating the rules.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has proposed changes that will only provide legal protections for Internet platforms if they can prove that their systems for detecting illegal content are working properly. However, it may be more difficult for smaller tech companies and startups to meet this requirement, leading critics to accuse it of ultimately favoring Facebook.

Other social media companies have called for caution in making any legislative changes to section 230.

Nation World News Desk
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