Senate addresses social media algorithms, looks into safety

Sen. Thune pushes two bills targeting post filtering.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senate leaders are taking a closer look at social media trends between Snapchat, Tik Tok, and YouTube and questioning if they’re safe for children.

Thune SenateMinority Whip Sen. John Thune taking part in those hearings, noting that the companies use algorithms to remove harmful content, but also use them to narrow content to the viewer. And in some cases, Thune says the narrowing of content can re-enforce harmful content.

Thune adds that the use of the algorithms creates a “filter bubble” and he wants to give people the option to opt out of that bubble and see the unfiltered content.

“A filter bubble actually essentially says you have to inform somebody that they are being subjected to the filter of an algorithm,” said Sen. Thune. “What they’re seeing is being moderated by this algorithm. In other words, it gives them an opportunity to opt out of that and to see the content.”

The Filter Bubble Act is in addition to the PACT Act, also proposed by Thune.

The PACT Act would give the public an appeals process, should their content be removed by a social media company.

“This allows people who want to see what those social media companies, the tech companies to disclose their practices, to make those public to people,” said Sen. Thune. “And then secondly, to give people if they feel like for some reason they’re, they’ve got questions about how those decisions are being made, there’s an appeals process that gives them some recourse.”

Sen. Thune says both pieces of legislation have received bipartisan interest in addressing the processes of social media companies.

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