Today, the Council for Responsible Social Media announced its formal endorsement of the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act (PATA), a bipartisan bill led by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mitt Romney (R-UT), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). This bill — which was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate today — would create a framework for independent, vetted researchers to analyze the design and operations of the major social media platforms. The text of the bill is available here and a one-pager on the bill is available here.
“Transparency is a crucial goal in the push for responsible and accountable social media,” said Dick Gephardt, former U.S. House Majority Leader and co-chair of the Council. “How can we truly address the challenges posed by social media without knowing the nature, scope, and scale of these problems? How can we safeguard our children, our communities, and our national security from online harms without fully knowing what we’re up against? PATA is the key to unlocking the black box of social media, and a necessary component of any social media reform.”
In a poll released by Issue One and the Council for Responsible Social Media last month, two-thirds (68%) of Americans said they would support legislation requiring social media platforms to make their products and algorithms available for independent review. In addition to achieving this goal, PATA would enable proactive oversight of some of the most pressing challenges posed by social media, including the ways that platforms are dealing with children’s safety issues, election-related conspiracies, and targeted efforts from foreign adversaries.
“Transparency is the oxygen for any healthy democracy,” said Nora Benavidez, Senior Counsel and Director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights at Free Press. “Without it, our trust in institutions and each other withers. Big Tech companies talk a good game about being more transparent. They often say they will provide data and access to the public simply because it’s the right thing to do. But instead, these companies have chosen to offer only sporadic and incomplete disclosures that keep policymakers and the American public in the dark. Voluntary transparency isn’t enough. PATA will provide insight into the inner workings of these powerful platforms, ensuring that we, and not just Big Tech, have the means to hold these big companies accountable.”
“The fight for a healthier, safer, and more responsible version of social media often requires making hard choices about complex policy. This isn’t one of those times,” said Alix Fraser, Director of the Council. “PATA is a smart, clean, and effective bill. It takes a direct approach by creating a framework for researchers to pull back the veil of these platforms so that the American public can see how they work and how we’re all affected. What we learn will help us create the right policies to protect our kids and ensure a vibrant and healthy democracy.”
The Council for Responsible Social Media, a project of Issue One, launched in October 2022 with a mission to address the harms that social media has for American kids, communities, and national security. A core component of the Council’s mission is a desire to ensure transparent, accountable social media. Learn more about the Council for Responsible Social Media.
Note: A Council for Responsible Social Media endorsement is the result of a rigorous, consensus-driven approach, but does not indicate the support of every member. For specific questions about our endorsement process or a particular piece of legislation, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.