U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, today questioned representatives from TikTok, Snap Inc., and YouTube during a subcommittee hearing titled, “Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube.” Thune expressed deep concern about social media platforms’ use of algorithms and their ability to manipulate users’ experience while online.
Thune recently questioned Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen about the dangers of big tech’s use of 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 Chairman Blumenthal and Ranking Member Blackburn for holding today’s hearing.
“While social media offers a lot of benefits and opportunities, I have concerns about the lack of transparency online and limited accountability of big tech companies. One of the major problems with social media that has been increasingly concerning is social media platforms’ use of algorithms to shape and manipulate users’ experience resulting in individuals being trapped in the “filter bubble.” The filter bubble can be particularly troubling for younger users. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal article described in detail how TikTok’s algorithm serves up sex and drug videos to minors.
“My Filter Bubble Transparency Act and PACT Act would make significant strides in addressing the lack of transparency online and importantly, the Filter Bubble Transparency Act would give consumers the option to engage with internet platforms without being manipulated by opaque algorithms.”