Lawmaker Wants Answers from Social Media Giant on Algorithms, AI Us

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On the heels of last week’s hearing on how social media companies use algorithms and artificial intelligence, a lawmaker wants answers on how Facebook and Instagram are using these technologies to suggest content and users to engage with on their platforms. 

In a letter to Instagram chief Adam Mosseri and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said policymakers and citizens alike “deserve to understand the facts behind the content and suggestions they are served on these internet platforms.”

“In other words, people need to know they are being manipulated,” he wrote. “Given that these internet platforms have hundreds of millions of users and the asymmetric power to manipulate, a number of very legitimate questions and concerns must be raised.”

Johnson’s letter comes on the heels of the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing, which focused on persuasive technology on internet platforms. Johnson, who is a member of that committee, then raised questions about how Instagram’s follow-suggestion algorithm works. Neither Facebook nor Instagram executives testified before the committee on that day, but Google’s director of user experience did. 

Johnson now wants answers on if either social media giant is using persuasive technology, how they are using algorithms and AI and whether they limit or accentuate human bias in search results

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