Every social media company should have an ‘algorithm tsar’, say ministers amid growing pressure on tech giants to reveal how they select content to target users
Every social-media company should appoint an ‘algorithm tsar’, Ministers and MPs have said.
It follows pressure for tech giants to reveal how they select the content they target at their users, which is shrouded in secrecy.
One ministerial source backed calls last night to make all social-media firms put a named person in charge of algorithms – software that selects which posts and adverts users see first or most prominently – and to be legally accountable for them.
The Minister said algorithms meant dangerous content previously accessible by going to a ‘back room in Whitechapel’ was being pushed on to people online.
Conservative MP Dr Luke Evans, who is campaigning for the requirement, said it would enable Ofcom to deal more effectively with such issues as hate speech, toevoeging: ‘It would solve a lot of problems.’
Conservative MP Dr Luke Evans is campaigning for the requirement to help Ofcom to deal more effectively with such issues as hate speech
Egter, it is not expected to be included in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, meaning it would require new legislation.
He said algorithms meant people were bombarded with harmful content so that instead of seeing ‘one picture you see 100’.
Dr Evans told The Mail on Sunday the secrecy around the algorithms was ‘potentiating the problem’ and ‘driving content to people when they are already struggling’ with problems including their mental health, body image or eating disorders.
Dr Evans said that algorithms meant people were bombarded with harmful content so that instead of seeing ‘one picture you see 100’
There are also concerns over the damaging effect social-media algorithms have on media outlets. The Online Safety Bill will make algorithms ‘less of a Wild West’, senior sources told The Mail on Sunday.
Tech giants will be force to make ‘risk assessments’ on how ‘harmful’ the content being pushed through their algorithms is. Social-media users could also get more power to block content being forced on them by algorithms.
‘People will be able to control more of what they see, particularly if it is illegal or harmful,’ a source involved in the Bill said.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has publicly said social-media firms should be compelled to reveal how their algorithms work to regulators.
Dr Evans, a former GP who sits on the Commons Health Committee, is running a campaign on social media and body image harm.
He said he had a ‘real issue’ with social-media firms hiding their algorithms details because they are ‘commercially sensitive’.