A new bill, called The Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA), would require social media companies to share platform data with independent researchers.
On Thursday, December 9, the bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators – Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) And Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – and would establish new des rules that would require social media companies like Facebook to share data with “qualified researchers”.
The bill defines qualified researchers as being affiliated with a university and pursuing projects that have been approved by the National Science Foundation (NSF), according to the press release.
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Under the bill, social media platforms would be required to comply with data requests once approved by the NSF.
Data would be subject to strict protections to protect user privacy, and failure to adhere to a social platform would result in the business losing the immunities associated with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“Over the past few months, we have seen deeply concerning evidence of how social media platforms are harming our families, communities and our democracy,” Klobuchar said.
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The bill also gives the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the power to require platforms to proactively make certain information available to researchers or the public on an ongoing basis, such as an ad library that explains targeting and l user engagement.
“It is increasingly clear that greater transparency is needed so that the billions of people who use Facebook, Twitter and similar platforms can fully understand the impact of these compromises,” Coons said.
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Stanford law professor Nate Persily said the bill was an important step to “open a window to technology” and hold social media companies accountable.
“We can’t live in a world where platforms know everything about us and we know next to nothing about them,” Persily said.