Social Media Algorithms
The Landscape: Social media platforms routinely use secretive algorithms to maximize engagement with their platforms to boost their bottom lines. These algorithms personalize our news feeds, make recommendations based on our interests and browsing behavior, target digital ads, and remove inappropriate content. Although algorithms shape what we see — or do not see — online, platforms are not required to disclose how they function, nor are they accountable for their decisions. This situation allows social media companies to profit from algorithms that amplify incendiary content and conspiracy theories, increase division and polarization, perpetuate bias, and disenfranchise marginalized communities.
As a first step, Congress should require social media platforms to disclose which factors algorithms take into account to make decisions and what data they use. New legislation should also require platforms to put in place a process to object to algorithmic decisions and give users more choice over what they see online. Lawmakers should also grant an independent authority the power to audit algorithms. Finally, Congress should enact legislation to hold platforms accountable for the harm caused by their algorithms.