Bipartisan Social Media Data Transparency Bill

The US Government recently announced the Bipartisan Social Media Data Transparency Bill. The bill requires the social media giants, especially those that are now called Meta, to allow researchers to access its internal data.

What does the bill say?

  • It establishes new rules that compel the social media giants to allow researchers to access their data for study purposes. These researchers are those who are pursuing projects in National Science Foundation.
  • If the company fails to provide requested access, then it will lose its immunities provided by Section 230 of Communications Decency Act. The section provides immunity for website platforms from third party content.

Benefits of the Bill

If passed this bill will provide a good pathway for the researchers. It will help to reduce fake news. More transparency towards political ads.

What is the need?

Several social media giants, especially Facebook has come under the scrutiny of whistleblowers. According to them, the Facebook products are harmful to children and teens. Recently the Instagram head appeared before a Senate Commerce subcommittee to clarify its safety issues. The court members believe that there is a long standing lack of action from Instagram over its safety issues.

In other countries

Similar data related measures were taken by the European Union. Upon the insistence of European Union, the social media giants agreed to work under Code of Practice on Disinformation. The code mainly aims to prevent online disinformation.

Issues

The social media companies have applied different policies in different countries. In countries like US, European Union where there is pressure to act, they have adopted self – regulatory practices. Unfortunately, in those countries where there is no pressure, they failed to act. For instance, Facebook provides transparency in political ads only in 35 countries. This means the rest 83% of the world the political ads need not carry disclosures.

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