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New bill would 'open up Big Tech's hood,' make companies explain how they decide which content to show

Mount Equity Group Tokyo, Japan > News > Tech > New bill would 'open up Big Tech's hood,' make companies explain how they decide which content to show

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., left, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images; Jemal Countess | Getty Images

A new federal bill seeks to demystify how social media platforms determine which posts users see, without touching a law that has become a lightning rod in Congress.

The Algorithmic Justice and Online Platform Transparency Act of 2021, announced by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., on Thursday, seeks to expose and address social injustices that are exacerbated by algorithmic amplification online.

In this particular usage of the word, “algorithms” are parts of software programs that sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google use to determine which content and advertisements to show users.

The bill would prohibit platforms from using algorithms that discriminate based on protected characteristics like race and gender, empower the Federal Trade Commission to review platforms’ algorithmic processes, and create a new inter-agency task force to investigate discrimination in algorithms.

Platforms would also have to explain to users how they use algorithms and what information they use to run them.

“It is time to open up Big Tech’s hood, enact strict prohibitions on harmful algorithms, and prioritize justice for communities who have long been discriminated against