The Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation (CDEI) has called for an overhaul in social media regulation, demanding that platforms take responsibility for targeting content, adopt greater levels of transparency in their processes, and offer more control to users.
The UK government’s advisory board on data technology provided a number of recommendations, including the regulation of online targeting systems that promote and suggest content such as social posts, videos and adverts.
It has also asked for social platforms to host publicly accessible digital archives for ‘high-risk’ adverts – including political ads.
In January this year, Facebook ignored calls for it to amend its policies on fact-checking political adverts and limiting microtargeting. Google has previously stated that it is restricting audience targeting for political ads to instead reach out to more general categories, while Twitter has prohibited the use of political ads.
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“This is a welcome and timely report from the CDEI, and the UK Government should urgently prioritise the recommendations to help build a fair, free and open future,” said Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation.
“The public is demanding greater transparency and openness from social media platforms, particularly around political adverts, with tech giants accepting money for ads which contain disinformation.
“Some social media firms have taken voluntary action, but the long-term solution to this does not involve self-regulation – it requires the UK’s analogue laws to be updated for the digital age.
“We look forward to these recommendations being introduced and monitored, and hope other civil society organisations also push for implementation.”