If Facebook is the issue, is a social media regulator the repair?

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WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Facebook (FB.O) whistleblower Frances Haugen instructed Congress on Tuesday that one possibility for making social media much less dangerous can be to create a devoted regulatory company to supervise corporations like Facebook, and will have former tech staff on workers.

“Right now, the only people in the world who are trained to … understand what’s happening inside of Facebook, are people who grew up inside of Facebook or Pinterest or another social media company,” she stated throughout a listening to earlier than a Senate Commerce Committee panel.

Haugen, a former product supervisor on the firm, stated the revenue motive was robust sufficient that Facebook, which owns Instagram, wouldn’t change with out stress. “Until incentives change at Facebook, we should not expect Facebook to change. We need action from Congress,” she stated.

Haugen additionally stated that if she had been made CEO of Facebook, she would instantly set up a coverage that will enable it to share inner analysis with Congress and different oversight our bodies, calling for transparency and public scrutiny of Facebook’s methods, algorithms and analysis into the impacts of its websites.

Facebook’s Lina Pietsch stated the corporate had itself lengthy known as for presidency oversight. “We have been calling for updated regulations ourselves for two and a half years,” she stated.

It has beforehand called for regulation of the web, together with a digital regulator, notably a reform of Section 230 to provide the businesses immunity from legal responsibility provided that they observe finest practices.

At the listening to, lawmakers didn’t push again at Haugen’s strategies for reform however, in lots of circumstances, pointed to laws that will do one thing related.

A bipartisan group of senators, together with Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn, launched a invoice in June that will require huge web platforms together with Facebook to permit customers to view content material that has not been determined by an algorithm.

Haugen additionally inspired lawmakers to reform Section 230. She urged the legislation be modified to carry corporations accountable for his or her algorithms, which frequently resolve what social media customers see after they check in.

“They (companies) have 100% control over their algorithms and Facebook should not get a free pass on choices it makes to prioritize growth and virality and reactiveness over public safety. They shouldn’t get a free pass on that because they’re paying for their profits right now with our safety,” she stated.

Haugen additionally inspired elevating age limits for customers of Facebook’s platforms from 13 to 16 or 18, given what she known as “problematic use” or dependancy on the websites and youngsters’s points with self-regulation.

Under present legislation, kids 12 and underneath have extra safety on-line than youngsters. There is a invoice earlier than Congress to boost the age to fifteen, amongst different modifications.

Facebook introduced in late September, shortly after a report primarily based largely on paperwork from Haugen that Instagram was dangerous to youngsters, that it was pausing its work on a model of Instagram geared toward youthful customers.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Diane Bartz; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration//File Photo/File Photo

Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled 'Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower' on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2021.   Jabin Botsford/Pool via REUTERS

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration taken January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration//File Photo/File Photo