by Elizabeth Culliford
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen said on Tuesday that one option to make social media less harmful would be to create a regulatory agency dedicated to overseeing companies like Facebook that could have former tech employees on staff.
“Right now, the only people in the world who are trained to…understand what’s going on inside Facebook are people who grew up inside Facebook or Pinterest or another social media company,” she said during a panel hearing. of the US Senate Commerce Committee.
Haugen, a former product manager at the company, said the profit motive was strong enough that Instagram owner Facebook didn’t change without pressure. “Until the incentives on Facebook change, we shouldn’t wait for Facebook to change. We need Congressional action,” he said.
Haugen also said that if he were named CEO of Facebook, he would immediately establish a policy that would allow the sharing of internal research with Congress and other oversight bodies, calling for transparency and public scrutiny of Facebook’s systems, algorithms and research on the impacts of its websites.
Lina Pietsch of Facebook said the company itself had long asked for government oversight. “It’s been two and a half years since we asked for the regulations to be updated,” she said.
At the hearing, lawmakers did not reject Haugen’s suggestions for reform, but in many cases they pointed to legislation that would do something similar.
A bipartisan group of senators, including Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn, introduced a bill in June that would require major Internet platforms, including Facebook, to allow users to view content not decided by an algorithm.
Haugen also encouraged raising the age limits for Facebook platform users from 13 to 16 or 18, given what she called “problematic use” or site addiction and self-regulating children’s issues.
Under current law, children 12 and under have more protection online than teenagers. There is a bill in Congress to raise the age to 15, among other changes.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Diane Bartz)
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