Users’ privacy on social media, in particular, has been the topic of a heated debate for the last few months. Following Facebook’s privacy scandal, social networks are being scrutinized.
Users and lawmakers have demanded that social networks take immediate action and make the necessary changes to better protect their digital community members.
As Facebook continues to deal with a PR nightmare that ignited following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that hit the media in March, other social media giants are being called upon to not only better protect users, but to also help improve policy.
Last week, Twitter's CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey appeared in a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce where he was drilled by lawmakers.
“Twitter’s success and growth rate has been extraordinary, but it has not been without controversy,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR.)
“Humans are recommending changes to Twitter’s policies. Humans can make mistakes … how Twitter manages those mistakes is critically important.”
Twitter has had to deal with its own backlash after “Vice” reported in July that the social network showed bias against conservatives and that prominent Republicans were being “shadowbanned.”
“In July, Vice reported that the accounts of prominent Republicans — including RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — were not auto-populating in search results. Vice referred to this practice as being “shadowbanned,” though Dorsey and Twitter disputed that term. These accounts weren’t being hidden — which is what shadowbanning typically refers to — but rather weren’t being suggested to users,” writes “Venture Beat.”
Dorsey has denied these claims.
“When people follow you, you’ve earned that audience. And we have a responsibility to make sure they can see your tweets. We do not have a responsibility, nor you a right, to amplify your tweets to audiences that don’t follow you,” said Dorsey.
After the hearing, which was deemed as a “hot mess” by multiple media outlets, Dorsey then released a statement on Twitter outlining some of the steps that the social network has been making to better safeguard its community.
“We‘ve made significant progress recently on tactical solutions like identification of many forms of manipulation intending to artificially amplify information, more transparency around who buys ads and how they are targeted, and challenging suspicious logins and account creation,” tweeted Dorsey. “We’ve seen positive results from our work. We‘re now removing over 200% more accounts for violating our policies. We’re identifying and challenging 8-10 million suspicious accounts every week. And we’re thwarting over a half million accounts from logging in to Twitter every day.”
Ironically, tech giants like Twitter will be instrumental in developing privacy legislation.
Dorsey also said he will be discussing with Chairman Burr, Vice Chairman Warner, and the committee to find solutions “to protect the integrity of our elections.”
“We’ve learned from 2016 and more recently from other nation’s elections how to help protect the integrity of our elections. Better tools, stronger policy, and new partnerships are already in place. We intend to understand the efficacy of these measures to continue to get better,” tweeted Dorsey.
Dorsey vowed to give the public full transparency during this transitional process.
“Today we‘re committing to the people, and this committee, to do that work, and do it openly,” tweeted Dorsey.
Will this be enough to reassure Twitter’s users? Or have these platforms lost the trust of the consumer forever?
Will President Donald Trump soon stop using Twitter for his hourly updates?