Frances Haugen is testifying before the Senate Commerce subcommittee today.
Brooke Erin Duffy, professor of communication, studies the intersection of media, culture and technology. Duffy says that today’s hearings signal a growing awareness that algorithms – and the platforms that govern them – are anything but neutral.
“A major thrust of today’s hearing with former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen was the company’s reliance on opaque algorithmic systems, including those that rank and reward sensational, polarizing, and oft-harmful content. Yet, crucially, both Haugen and the Senate leaders highlighted the role of human agents in designing and refining these algorithms. From questions about whether Mark Zuckerberg represents the “Algorithm Designer in Chief” to Haugen’s references to former colleagues’ disastrous “choices” and “intentional," bottom-line decision-making, the discussion seemed to debunk the myth of technological objectivity. Today’s hearings thus signaled a growing awareness that algorithms—and the platforms that govern them—are anything but neutral.”