Nate Persily and Joshua Tucker have issued a new Report, How to fix social media? Start with independent research. A key issue for regulatory responses, they argue, is just “how little outsiders know about what is happening inside these companies.”
“As the earlier utopian prediction for social media turned decidedly pessimistic, research on these new technologies developed into a field of its own. However, because the platforms tightly controlled the data necessary to study these phenomena, academic researchers were limited in their efforts to get a handle on the scale, character, and causes of the various phenomena attributed to the rise of social media.
. . . . [While the 2021 Haugen revelations seem to have focused legislative attention in the United States and around the world. . . , there remains a real risk that legislation, particularly as it relates to content moderation, will be based on the snippets of data and research found in the recent document disclosures. To fill the void, Congress should mandate an unprecedented corporate data-sharing program to enable outside, independent researchers to conduct the kinds of analysis on social media platforms that firm insiders routinely perform.”
The Report advocates for federal legislation along the lines of the Platform Transparency and Accountability Act.