26 Oct 2021
Posted in Thematic Research
Frances Haugen’s evidence reminds us that online harm thrives in the absence of transparency, says GlobalData
Following Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s appearance in front of MPs investigating online harm;
Laura Petrone, Principal Analyst in the Thematic Research team at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view:
“Haugen’s testimony shows that social media companies must become more transparent. Until platforms such as Facebook can be held accountable for the content they post, online harm will continue to thrive. Social media companies must be forced to clearly state their rules on speech and make them consistent with established human rights legislation.
“Facebook has forged an ad-funded business model centered on opaque algorithms that determine what content users see. Online harm and misinformation are side effects of ad-funded platforms that aim to hold the user’s attention for as long as possible, with little care for the harm they do to society, including children. Regularly publishing transparency reports for content moderation and conducting annual risk assessments will help tackle the proliferation of harmful content.
The UK’s proposed online harms legislation, which introduces a duty of care on social media platforms, is certainly a step towards ensuring greater social media accountability. However, it remains to be seen to what extent it will tackle the most pressing issues, such as the ability to check the algorithms tech companies use to tailor their content.”