White House Explores Social Media “Bias”

July 11, 2019

The White House is today hosting a social media summit to examine allegations of bias and censorship. EPIC objected to an earlier White House survey on this topic, noting that the White House failed to protect the privacy of respondents. EPIC told the White House that "this data collection is unlawful, unconstitutional, and itself a violation of the First Amendment." The White House has since disabled the survey. To address concerns about bias, EPIC supports algorithmic transparency and has urged federal agencies and Congress to mandate algorithmic transparency. In 2007, EPIC explained to Congress that after Google acquired YouTube, Google substituted its own subjective algorithm based on "relevance" for objective criteria, such as number of hits and user ratings. The practical consequence was to elevate the rankings of Google's own web pages and to demote the ranking of other web pages, including EPIC's. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently introduced the "Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act," which would require tech companies to submit to an external audit that proves that their algorithms and content-removal practices are politically neutral.

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