WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate panel on Tuesday examined how the major social media companies such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet, Inc, Google unit, the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence to serve up new content to keep users engaged.
FILE PHOTO: An attendee takes a photo of a sign at the Facebook Inc. F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, united states, April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
The Senate Commerce subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and Innovation, to be heard by the researchers who were critical of the use of artificial intelligence to select content for the user. Senators said that a lot of content, conspiracy theories, biased opinions and misleading information on Google, YouTube, Facebook, and other places.
Congress has spent months debating a new privacy protections for online users, that could limit the ability of social media to businesses in order to personal data to be used to display the content of the recommendations made, and the question of whether social media companies to protect children.
The Senator is Brian Schatz, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce subcommittee, said the social media companies use algorithms that feed us a steady stream of ever more extreme and inflammatory content,” and they need to be more transparent and accountable to the algorithms.
He said: “the problem is the lack of human judgment.
“Such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter employees, rather than computers, they make the recommendations they would suggest to back them in the first place,” Schatz said. “Companies have to let the algorithms run wild, and it is only with the help of the humans to clean up the mess … the Algorithms are amoral.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, agreed with Schatz that the algorithms are running wild, but added: “they wanted to be part of it.”
Blumenthal, and Senator Marsha Blackburn wrote to YouTube CEO by this month, raising concerns that YouTube is “a recommendation mechanism will remain active and will automatically push out sensitive videos on children.” A number of senators from both parties are working on legislation to allow the commission to make a $95-million in the past five years, the National Institute of Health research initiative to investigate the impact of tech on children, Senator Ed Markey said.
Maggie Stanphill, the director of the user to the director of User Experience at Google, said the company has listened to the concerns of the senators about the YouTube video recommendations system.
YouTube has restricted the content and recommendations of the dissemination of “malicious disinformation”, and as a result of the number of views of this kind, the content of the recommendations has decreased by more than 50% in the united states.”
Senator John Thune, a Republican who is the chairman of the board, said, “the powerful mechanisms behind these platforms are designed to increase engagement have the ability, or at least the potential to have a major impact on the thoughts and behavior of literally billions of people.”
At the same time, the social media companies in the face of criticism from Republicans, who believe that they have wrongfully removed conservative content. The companies have denied any bias towards the conservatives.
Tristan Harris, co-founder and executive director of the Center for Humanities, Technology, and a former Google design, an ethicist, said social media companies have a lot of power, and the use of tools is related to slot machines, to allow the people working on it.
“You have to have a super-computer have to be on your brain,” Harris said. “It’s a race between Facebook’s voodoo doll, which you wipe off with your finger, and they can predict what’s next, and Google +’ s ” voodoo doll.” He said the proposed social media had created a “digital Giant that it is really hard to control.”
Reporting, by David Shepardson-Additional reporting by Bryan Pietsch; Editing by Nick Zieminski