Recently, Congress bore witness to a debate relating to the importance of transparency and how regulations for social media giants would change for the better.
Think along the lines of new rules that would enforce plenty of leading social media platforms like TikTok, Meta, and YouTube to become more public. And that means sharing their data with researchers.
It was quite obvious in the gathering that this was a golden opportunity for the members arising from the Senate Judiciary to come on board and consider passing laws that make tech giants surrender themselves to capable researchers. In case you’re wondering why, well, it’s for the betterment of society.
Senator Chris Coon who hails from Delaware was leading the recent meeting that was held on Wednesday. For a good 100 minutes, leading members explained how important it was for leading platforms to unveil their information while understanding how this would be done in a constitutional manner.
First, Brandon Silverman was called to discuss why this is so important. Silverman is the man behind the renowned Crowd Tangle. This is a famous tool that’s designed to give interested parties an overview of which posts and links are the most popular on Facebook. In other words, it’s a transparency tool.
Many researchers who are involved in studies about social networks added how they would greatly benefit from these types of things as they’d get an in-depth insight into how content is actually spread across social media.
Silverman mentioned how Facebook was not a huge fan of the transparency measures, as the firm felt it was designed more to embarrass the company. And that’s what made other apps more reluctant to try it out. But Silverman revealed that this is where the major problem lies. Major platforms are being allowed to get away with their wrongdoings and this needs to stop.
This was the time when many highlighted how TikTok, Snapchat, and even Telegram were huge platforms that provided little to no transparency despite being major names in the US market. These big names are being allowed to bypass all scrutiny that comes with transparent systems.
It was noted during the meeting that the only time we get information about these social platforms is if there’s any document leaked and that’s not good enough as Silverman reiterated, “No one has the time to wait for whistleblowers to sound the alarm.”
Now the major question arises, what would the new legislation end up doing? Well, the Policy Center in Standford beautifully summarized it for us all.
Firstly, any proposals for researchers that require authentic data from these platforms must be submitted at the earliest. Secondly, these apps must reveal specific facts like data pertaining to ads and how they’re targeting the market on a routine basis. Thirdly, the Commission would hold the right to allow for various research tools that analyze a firm’s systems. Common examples would be those similar to Facebook’s CrowdTangle. Last but not least, social networks would be banned from disabling research initiatives.
Until now, we’ve seen the Senate focus too much on freedom of speech so legislation like this was inevitable and would be considered more impactful too. After all, there’s nothing better than seeing platforms perform their best because they know they’re being closely watched.
But that means giving these social media giants clear drafts that assure them of maintaining their own privacy and how the new rules would not conflict with the Fourth Amendment. Remember, once everything is constitutional, only then can we expect these tech giants to move ahead willingly.
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