Social media without algorithms? Bipartisan bill proposes just that
11/11/2021 // News Editors // Views

Congress and Big Tech are still battling it out over which will have more control over the online speech of Americans. A new bipartisan congressional bill would allow users to experience social media without the algorithms.

(Article by Catherine Salgado republished from

The "Filter Bubble Transparency Act," shared exclusively with Axios, aims to "require that internet platforms give users the option to engage with a platform without being manipulated by algorithms driven by user-specific data." The House bill is sponsored by Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Burgess Owens, (R-UT), and David Cicilline (D-RI). The Senate bill is sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD). Both bills have bipartisan support, according to Axios. The bill aims to create an alternative social media environment where content selections are not algorithmically driven.

Axios mentioned the concern over social media targeting conservatives. The outlet also cited arguments that "algorithms that personalize content on social networks and other apps can make services addictive, violate users’ privacy and promote extremism."

The Filter Bubble Transparency Act is just the latest in a series of Congressional actions to increase government regulation of Big Tech. The bipartisan Senate "Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021" aims to limit Big Tech companies’ anticompetitive acquisitions. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have already introduced a bill to remove content liability protection from larger online platforms whose algorithmic ranking delivered users content determined to cause harm, Axios wrote. Reps. Buck and Cicilline also already passed six antitrust bills in June out of the House Judiciary committee.

Buck and Cicilline framed the proposed bill as directly helping social media users. "Consumers should have the option to engage with internet platforms without being manipulated by secret algorithms driven by user-specific data," Buck said, according to Axios. Cicilline reportedly added, "Facebook and other dominant platforms manipulate their users through opaque algorithms that prioritize growth and profit over everything else. And due to these platforms’ monopoly power and dominance, users are stuck with few alternatives to this exploitative business model."

Testimony from Facebook "whistleblower" Frances Haugen has spurred legislation around the world, not just in the U.S. A new U.K. bill will reportedly greatly increase censorship incentive for social media companies. European Union (EU) officials are using the Facebook revelations as an excuse "to accelerate and sharpen their plans to impose sweeping new restrictions on big technology companies," according to The Wall Street Journal.

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