Democrats introduce bill to remove Section 230 protections for Facebook and YouTube algorithms | New

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Top House Democrats on Thursday introduced a bill to make social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube accountable when they use their algorithms to recommend content that causes physical or emotional harm, a move that would dramatically change the platform business model.

Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, joined with other Democrats in introducing the Justice Against Malicious Algorithms Act to hold major social media platforms accountable for use “knowingly or recklessly “of their algorithms to prioritize publications that cause harm.

Sponsors of the bill, including Democratic Reps Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Anna Eshoo of California, referred to the testimony of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen in the Senate last week as evidence of the malicious use of algorithms by the social media giant.

Huagen’s mine of internal Facebook documents, collected earlier this year, indicated that the company’s engagement-based ranking algorithms reward controversial and extreme content on the platform and may be toxic to some teens.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION REVIEWS CONTROVERSIAL LAW THAT PROTECTS BIG TECH FROM PROSECUTION

Democrats say Facebook clearly violates the spirit of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a 1996 law, which protects social media companies such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter from lawsuits for content posted by their users. users.

“As Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen has proven through testimony and documents, Facebook is knowingly amplifying harmful content and abusing Section 230 immunity far beyond Congress’ intent,” he said. said Eshoo, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee.

The bill only applies to online platforms with more than 5 million monthly users and will not apply to web hosting companies, such as Amazon Web Services, or searches specified by the user on Google. It will be discussed before the Chamber of Energy and Commerce on October 15.

However, liberal groups critical of Big Tech say the bill is flawed, even if they agree with its general purpose.

“This bill is well intentioned, but it is a total mess. Democrats are playing Facebook’s game by proposing adjustments to Section 230 instead of thoughtful policies that will actually reduce the damage caused by surveillance algorithms.” said Evan Greer, director of digital defense group Fight for the Future.

She added that Congress should instead focus on passing federal data privacy legislation to address the root cause of the damage caused by platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Greer also said the Section 230 bill would likely face a significant challenge with centrist Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate likely to view it as overbreadth.

“Democrats control the House, Senate and White House. If they can’t get a privacy bill drafted, it’s hard to take them seriously when they say they want to “master big tech,” “said Greer.

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The top Republicans in the House ditched the legislation in July to revise Section 230, in a bid to curb what they say is widespread conservative censorship, holding major platforms accountable for content moderation decisions, by empowering users to challenge censorship; and forcing tech companies to be transparent about what they are censoring and why.

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