Two US lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation this week that would aim to tackle the negative impacts of social media.
The goal of the Social Media NUDGE Act, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), is to identify ways to intervene in a person’s social media habits, especially when they are harmful or addictive. NUDGE stands for Nudging Users to Drive Good Experiences on Social Media.
The proposed bill comes as Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, is still struggling to deal with the toxic effects of the real world since former employee Frances Haugen testified last fall that the the social media giant’s platforms were harmful to children.
In his testimony, Haugen accused the social media platform of failing to make changes to Instagram after internal research showed apparent harm to some teens and suggested dishonesty in its public fight against hate and discrimination. disinformation. Her accusations were backed up by tens of thousands of pages of internal research documents that she had secretly copied before quitting her job with the company’s civic integrity unit.
She testified that congressional action is needed to intervene.
“Corporate executives know how to make Facebook and Instagram safer but won’t make the necessary changes because they’ve put their astronomical profits before people,” she said.
Facebook issued a statement in response to Haugen’s testimony, saying the company disagrees with “his characterization of many issues”.
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The bill introduced Thursday would launch an initial study by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) that would identify ways to intervene in someone’s habits. one in social media, like asking users if they want to read an article before sharing it.
The study’s findings must then be reported to Congress and the Federal Trade Commission, with the FTC then setting the stage for applying the findings to social media platforms. Platforms must then implement the recommendations and disclose how they comply with them.
Noncompliance could be treated as a violation, such as unfair or deceptive practices, with enforcement and sanction handled by the FTC.
“For too long, tech companies have said ‘Trust us, we’ve got this’. But we know that social media platforms have repeatedly put profits before people, with algorithms pushing dangerous content that hook users and spread misinformation,” Klobuchar said.
Lummis said the study will help the public “to fully understand the impact that the designs of these platforms and their algorithms have on our society.”
“From here, we can build guardrails to protect Wyoming’s children from the negative effects of social media. We can build a healthier internet without the feds dictating what people can and cannot say,” she added.
This story was reported from Detroit.