The UK government’s AI advisory body believes that new laws are required to control social media algorithms and regulate how tech giants such as Facebook and Google target users with content.
The Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI) said on Tuesday that tech platforms are now in a position of “real power” as they have the ability to decide what a user sees on their news feeds.
It also called for checks on targeting after raising concerns that data relating to people’s online habits could be exploited by nefarious third parties.
The CDEI’s chairman Roger Taylor added: “Most people do not want targeting stopped. But they do want to know that it is being done safely and responsibly. And they want more control.”
The CDEI believes that current regulations are “out of step” with what the public now expects from digital experiences and urged the government to take action to rein in major players such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
More specifically, it put forth three recommendations, urging the government to establish a better standard of accountability for those using online targeting, to increase the transparency of these systems, and to enable users to decide how and when they are targeted.
While many UK people see the value in targeting, the report found that only 29% trust platforms to go about the practice responsibly, and two-thirds are open to more oversight to ensure that certain standards are met.
Just a third of respondents said that they trust internet companies to alter settings, and only 17% believe that tech platforms are capable of regulating themselves.
The UK government has already set out proposals to clamp down on the dissemination of extremist and harmful content on social media platforms.
It will soon introduce an independent regulator to track these issues and potentially dole out fines if the distribution of such content is not kept in check.