Facebook, Google and Twitter algorithms in the sights of Brussels

by bold-lichterman

The European Commission will demand from digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Google transparency on how their algorithms recommend content, in order to “protect our democracy», Announced Friday the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager. “We cannot let decisions that affect the future of our democracy be taken in the secrecy of a few corporate boards.», Declared the Dane during a speech in front of the organization AlgorithmWatch.

Margrethe Vestager explained that the future Digital Services Act, which the Commission is due to present in December, would give “to all digital services the duty to cooperate with regulators“And that large platforms will have to”provide more information on how their algorithms work when requested by regulators“. These platforms will “tell users how their recommendation systems decide what content to show“, Which will allow them”to judge“If they must”trust the worldview they give“. They will also have to “provide regular reports on the content of the moderation tools they use“And”better information about the ads we see“, in order to have “a better idea of ​​who is trying to influence us“.

“It all looks a bit like the Truman Show”

The algorithms of the digital giants are regularly singled out. Some have already been manipulated, as was the case with Facebook in the last presidential ballot in the United States and the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. The French Secretary of State for Digital, Cédric O, recently denounced in a forum “opacity»Algorithms and moderation of social network content, singled out after the assassination of history professor Samuel Paty.

These algorithms are the secret to the success of these huge platforms. But they can also have serious effects on the health of our democracy.“, Underlined Friday Margrethe Vestager. “When recommender systems choose what information to promote and what to hide, they profoundly affect what we know about the world. It all looks a bit like the Truman Show, that movie where Jim Carrey lives in a world he thinks is real, but which is actually just the setting for a TV show. The world we see through these platforms seems so real that it can be hard to remember that it is in fact built through the choices algorithms make about what we should see.», She insisted.