Senators unveil bipartisan bill requiring social media giants to open data to researchers

Article by Rebecca Klar: “Meta and other social media companies would be required to share their data with outside researchers under a new bill announced by a bipartisan group of senators on Thursday. 

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) underscored the need for their bill based on information leaked about Meta’s platforms in the so-called Facebook Papers, though the proposal would also apply to other social media companies.

The bill, the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act, would allow independent researchers to submit proposals to the National Science Foundation. If the requests are approved, social media companies would be required to provide the necessary data subject to certain privacy protections. 

“It’s increasingly clear that more transparency is needed so that the billions of people who use Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms can fully understand the impact of those tradeoffs. This bipartisan proposal is an important step that will bring much needed information about the impact of social media companies to light and ought to be a crucial part of any comprehensive strategy that Congress can take to regulate major social media companies,” Coons said in a statement. 

If companies failed to comply with the requirement under the bill, they would be subject to enforcement from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and face losing immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is a controversial provision that provides immunity for internet companies based on content posted by third parties, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have proposed measures to weaken its reach….(More)”.