Facebook fixed? How Europe’s data law puts pressure on Big Tech.

A new European Union law aims to force social media giants including Facebook and YouTube to take steps to tamp down the spread of extremism and disinformation online.

Under the Digital sets Act (DSA), tech companies with more than 45 million users will have to give regulators access to their so-called algorithmic black boxes, revealing more about how certain posts – particularly the divisive ones – end up at the top of social media news feeds.

Why We Wrote This

A new EU law calls on Big Tech companies to open up their algorithmic “black boxes” and better moderate online speech. The goal is no less than preserving the public square on which democracies depend.

And if platforms recognize patterns that are causing harm and fail to act, they will confront hefty fines.

“We need to get under the hood of platforms and look at the ways in which they are amplifying and spreading unhealthy content such as hate speech,” says Joe Westby, deputy director of Amnesty Tech in Brussels. “The DSA is a landmark law trying to keep up these Big Tech companies to account.”

The law may end up having important effects on how corporations behave already in the United States. “This is a typical example of the ‘Brussels effect’: the idea that when Europe regulates, it ends up having a global impact,” says Brookings Institution expert Alex Engler.

Brussels

Sweeping new European Union legislation seeks to “revolutionize” the internet, forcing social media giants including Facebook and YouTube to take steps to tamp down the spread of extremism and disinformation online.

Known as the Digital sets Act (DSA), it is likely to create ripple effects that could change how social media platforms behave in America, too. 

In one of the most remarkable requirements of the new law, Big Tech companies with more than 45 million users will have to hand over access to their so-called algorithmic black boxes, lending greater clarity to how certain posts – particularly the divisive ones – end up at the top of social media news feeds.

Why We Wrote This

A new EU law calls on Big Tech companies to open up their algorithmic “black boxes” and better moderate online speech. The goal is no less than preserving the public square on which democracies depend.

Companies must also put in place systems designed to speed up how quickly illegal content is pulled from the web, prioritizing requests from “trusted flaggers.”

And if platforms recognize patterns that are causing harm and fail to act, they will confront hefty fines. 

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