- Polling Issues
Social media disinformation

The business model of most social media platforms depend upon user ‘clicks’ for advertising revenue. However, the pressure for growth and user-engagement often takes precedent over displaying truthful content. This tactic may be good for business but advocates warn it is very divisive and corrosive to our society. Algorithms employed by these firms often amplify disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate speech to trigger outrage and fear among viewers, thereby ensuring these items will be widely shared and reposted. Critics say such policies make those with anti-democracy, anti-vaccination, white supremacist and climate change denial views appear to be more popular than they actually are, and to enjoy more support than they really have.

Social media companies have long been accused of putting profits ahead of consumers’ safety, privacy and wellbeing. Facebook and other platforms are aware of these effects but repeated requests to adjust their algorithms have been ignored, diluted or deliberately shut down by company officials. In 2018, Facebook managers reportedly told employees the company’s priorities were shifting “away from societal good to individual value.”

Social media platforms shape the information that billions of people across the globe consume every day. However, many believe there is a dangerous lack of transparency about how these platforms impact our children, families, society and national security. Advocates say it’s time to start holding these platforms accountable for the lack of transparency behind their algorithms. They wish to increase transparency into data collection by social media companies, and ensure independent researchers can access platform data and understand the type of information these companies are collecting on their users. Advocates claim this would be a good starting point in solving our social media disinformation problem.

Proposed Legislation: Reintroduction of S.5339 - Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA) (117th Congress 2021-2022)
Prospective Sponsor: Sen. Christopher Coons (DE)

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Poll Opening Date
March 13, 2023
Poll Closing Date
March 19, 2023

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