Online Safety Report calls for Algorithmic Transparency

Facebook and Twitter have been enabling the proliferation of online abuse on their spaces
23 March 2022
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The federal government’s online safety report was published last week, and in addition to calling for algorithmic transparency, it also takes aim at end-to-end encryption. Chair of the Social Media and Online Safety Committee Lucy Wicks wrote in the report that platforms have to “bear the ultimate burden of providing safety for their users”, rather than being able to set their own rules. 

Ms Wicks wrote that platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been “enabling the proliferation of online abuse on their spaces.” She also identified a need to focus on the conduct and behaviour of individuals who use technology in ways that harm others. 

The report noted the lack of transparency that surrounds how platforms’ algorithms work, and that they do not provide publicly available detail in relation to whether the platforms are doing anything to address potential harms caused through their algorithms. The report recommended a study by the eSafety Commissioner and the departments of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, as well as Home Affairs. 

That study would examine questions of the operation of digital platforms’ algorithms, what kinds of harms they may cause, algorithmic transparency, and regulatory options.

- CyberBeat

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