Lawmakers Focus On The Use Of Social Media, Internet Algorithms For Data Collection

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Holding big tech accountable on data sharing and algorithms was a hot topic at the Capitol. Some researchers told US Senators at a committee hearing that the algorithms from social media and internet companies are being used to harm people and undermine our privacy rights.

According to Forbes, each person spends at least an hour a day on social media and that number could skyrocket based on how much we spend just browsing the internet. At a senate committee, how big tech companies use algorithms to analyze our information was the center of attention.

“The internet has connected the world and brought tremendous opportunity to billions, but the incentives that underpin it have brought models that harm individuals and our democracy,” said the director of The Democracy and Tech Initiative, Rose Jackson.

Researchers told senators while there is still a lot to learn about algorithms and the influence they have on people, some said the purpose of companies using algorithms are to boost engagement by controlling what we see and hear without any accountability, which is an important issue when it comes spreading disinformation.

“Rather than users choosing what they see online, algorithms maximize growth and revenue,” said Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D- NM).

Researchers encouraged members to create stronger internet regulation legislation and for the most part, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seemed energized to find those solutions.

“The only way to provide an effective counter-way to the fiduciary option to maximize clicks is essentially as Senator Klobuchar said the maximization of revenue is to establish in federal law to have an affirmative obligation not to harm consumers whose data is being collected,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D- HI).

“Senator Blumenthal and I are continuing to work on issues around privacy data and making certain the virtual space is going to be safe for all users and especially for our children,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R- TN).


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