Social media platforms may force openness to researchers
Social media platforms may force openness to researchers

A bipartisan group of senators has announced a new bill requiring social media platforms to share platform data with independent researchers.

The bill was announced by Democratic Senators Chris Cohens and Amy Klobuchar and Republican Rob Portman.

This bill is known as the PATA Accountability and Transparency Act. The bill contains new rules that require social media platforms to share data with qualified researchers.

These researchers are defined as university researchers working on projects approved by the National Science Foundation.

Once the research is approved by the National Science Foundation, the bill requires that these platforms comply with data requirements.

Failure to provide data to eligible companies will result in loss of platform immunity as per Section 230 of the Communication Standards Act.

“The PATA Act represents the platform’s public promise of transparency,” said Laura Edelson, a senior researcher with the Democratic Cybersecurity Project at New York University. If the law is passed, it will provide researchers with a real opportunity to better understand the dangers on the Internet and find solutions.

Earlier this year, Edelson and other researchers at New York University's Ad Monitor project were banned from Facebook because the company alleged their research violated its terms of service.

The PATA Act is the latest in a series of bills designed to open a black box for social media algorithms.

Bill 2019 requires that online platforms provide options for users to interact with the platform. This happens without tampering with the algorithms controlled by user data.

The Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act of 2020 proposes amending Section 230. To make the platform more accountable for content review decisions.

Social media algorithm black box

None of these projects came to fruition. But at the time of the latest bill, according to Francis Hogan, social media companies, especially Facebook, are increasingly under scrutiny.

The documents leaked by Hogan revealed many details about the company's internal operations. Studies of some of the more dangerous substances indicate that their products can be harmful to children and teens.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, appeared before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee earlier this week. He answered questions about whether photo-sharing apps harm the mental health of young users.

At that hearing, senators expressed deep frustration over the failure of Instagram and parent company Meta to respond to long-standing security concerns.

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