Legislature being modified to limit Facebook’s hate

On Dec. 1, Frances Haugen, who recently exposed Facebook for misconduct, helped lawmakers as they debated proposals for social media site regulation. Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, testified before Congress in October and brought forward a massive amount of internal documents and files to expose Facebook’s misdoings. Legislators are proposing new laws that aim to diminish social media companies’ misconduct by limiting their free-speech protections.

Haugen’s testimony revealed how Facebook’s systems and algorithms which rank posts based on engagement can spread misinformation and manipulate users of Facebook. The systems use likes, shares and comments to rank the posts, and as a result the posts with more engagement are prioritized over the safety of the user. These systems can also potentially amplify hate and expose young users to detrimental content. Facebook does have the ability to fix these problems, but doesn’t, to increase their own profits. “I saw that Facebook repeatedly encountered conflicts between its own profits and our safety. Facebook consistently resolved those conflicts in favor of its own profits,” Haugen said.

Members of both the Republican and Democratic parties are calling for limitations of the Section 230 provision in the United States Communications Decency Act. This provision protects companies from liability for what users post on their apps. Lawmakers are normally divided over what laws to make, as their political parties normally have different views. However, time is of the essence for this case, and the legislators are working on bipartisan legislation to quickly limit the hate on Facebook.

 

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