U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, today expressed deep concern about the lack of transparency and the limited accountability of big tech companies during a Commerce Committee hearing, titled “Protecting Kids Online: Facebook, Instagram, and Mental Health Harms.” Thune questioned Facebook’s global head of safety about the use of algorithms to influence certain behaviors online and whether consumers should have the ability to use Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms without being manipulated by algorithms. Earlier this year, Thune reintroduced two bipartisan bills, the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, that would help increase online transparency and accountability.
Thune’s opening remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Thank you for holding this important hearing.
“I, along with many of my colleagues, are deeply concerned about the lack of consumer transparency and limited accountability of big tech companies. Consumers have become increasingly troubled about the way their information is used by social media platforms, and how these sites decide what news and information we see.
“Because of the secrecy with which platforms protect their algorithms and content moderation practices, which largely has been and continues to be a black box, consumers have little or no idea how the information they see has been shaped by the sites they’re visiting.
“I’ve introduced two bipartisan bills to address these issues—the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act. The PACT Act would increase transparency around the content moderation process and provide consumers more due process when a platform like Facebook removes a post. And the Filter Bubble Transparency Act would give consumers the option to engage with internet platforms without being manipulated by opaque algorithms.”