New invoice forces Twitter, TikTok and different social media platforms to share knowledge
A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill on Wednesday that aims to increase transparency Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies, as lawmakers, are debating whether to ban TikTok.
The Platform Accountability and Transparency Act aims to make companies’ internal data more accessible to the public by requiring the transmission of necessary data to independent researchers. The bill is sponsored by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and Law; Rob Portman, R-Ohio, senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; and Bill Cassidy, R-La.
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Under the proposal, social media companies would be forced to share internal, privacy-protected data with researchers approved by the National Science Foundation, an independent agency. The bill protects researchers from legal obligations related to automated data collection if certain privacy safeguards are followed.
Some content, such as extensive advertising libraries, content moderation statistics, viral content data, and a platform’s ranking and recommendation algorithms, would be continuously made available to researchers or the public, according to the bill.
The Federal Trade Commission would enforce the new policy, and companies that fail to comply risk a potential loss of immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally protects them from defamation for content posted by members.
In a statement, Coons said the bill will address a “dangerous lack of transparency about how these platforms impact our children, families, society or national security” and help raise questions about national security threats and potentially harmful content to answer.
Earlier this month, lawmakers enacted legislation banning popular social media platform TikTok in the US after years of speculation about the Chinese government’s influence over ByteDance, the China-based company that owns TikTok.
On Tuesday, federal law enforcement issued a public safety alert about the rise of “sexortation,” the online blackmailing of minors for displaying sexually explicit images.
“I have a number of concerns about big tech — from facilitating the sex trade to burying content about the origins of Covid-19 — and I want to make sure any response from Congress is effective to address those concerns.” , Portman said in a statement.
Coons also referenced Twitter, recently acquired by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, as a “cautionary tale” about how a social media company’s transparency policy can change without notice and with few safeguards.
“Twitter was the only platform that was relatively transparent and had made some investment and effort in terms of guardrails and accountability and some transparency in terms of their metrics,” Coons said, according to The Washington Post. “All of that has been blown up by the change of ownership.”