An endless belt publications, automatic updates and notifications, numerous likes and other reactions, many hours of videos and badges for activity, something that has become commonplace for every Internet user. Soon, however, the usual way can be destroyed. At the end of July in the USA was presented with the bill, which can put an end to all modern social networks, “technology to reduce dependence on social media.” According to the author of the initiative, the Republican Senator Josh Hawley, such platforms are being cheated and literally exploited the psyche of the recent users, turning them into addicts. What politician is going to turn the Internet site and why he started the war against social media — in the material “Tape.ru”.
Its development Hawley SMART short calls (in translation from English — “smart”), reducing the official name of the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act. He is sure that large technology companies have built their business on the dependence of users. All innovations in this area, he said, aimed not at improving the interface, and to attract the attention of users, and have a long “delay” in the network. This is not his first initiative as soon as Hawley got the slightest political weight in us society, he went Holy war on all progress.
Senator calls to ban social networks to “exploit human psychology or physiology of the brain.” According to him, the behavior of the administration of the services leads to the fact that users do not have freedom of choice and do as they are forced to. The business model of many Internet companies (especially social platforms) is to draw the attention of users to their own profit, but because they are ready to go to dastardly lengths to squeeze out of the audience high, he said.
Among the “prohibited practices” Hawley mentioned four common practices. The first is the infinite scrolling (scrolling) or automatic download of data. That is, when the user finish to the end of a feed of the posts, the platform automatically, without asking his wishes, “throws” him a new batch of posts. The second attack of excessive content, so that no unsuspecting user will not be able to cope even for a few minutes. Another approach is the rewards for social media activity. They are treated as virtual “badges” and “regalia” and premium access to new services or additional features. It is believed that in the pursuit of imaginary status, many are willing to dedicate their lives to social networks.
Apart the Senator noted AutoPlay built-in feature that automatically plays music and videos without the approval of the user. He said that users of social networks are forced to watch videos or listen to audio, which for them made up in advance, and to interrupt this playlist is absolutely impossible. It is noted that the audience for streaming services also doomed to consume a huge amount of advertising, which suddenly interrupts the broadcast. All of these “deadly sins” of social networking Hawley proposes to prohibit. Now they are the big services like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat.
On the idea of the legislator to eliminate such business models services quite six months. Each user should set a time limit (daily and weekly), after which his access to the platform is locked, but the indicator automatically resets to standard every month. Recommended “standard” — half an hour a day for a one-time scrolling of the tape to three minutes.
Also, social networks are obliged to regularly inform each user how much of his time he spends watching tape on all of their devices together. Some companies, like Apple, offer tools that help users keep track of how much time they spend on different applications and websites. However, if this project becomes a full-fledged law, for all companies, this practice will become the absolute rule. From-under actions of the law are derived mainly text-based services, messaging services and email.
At a hearing in June 2019 U.S. senators have consulted with a panel of experts in the field of manipulative technologies. Former Google employee Tristan Harris explained how Internet companies build products that takes away from the users their time. He compared the acceptance of social media feeds “Pull to refresh” from a casino. “It works like a slot machine. Has the same addictive qualities that cause people to hang around in Las Vegas,” he said. Countless loadable publication he compared with a bottomless Cup that you can drink without stopping.
The opportunity to sign up for another profile Harris also called manipulative technique. Likes and subscriptions, he said, is a cheap way to get people to be active and to attract attention. Loud emotional statements and publications are also useful social networks: they increase the number of reposts, and the author gets a lot of attention to your address and service new customers, who increasingly go to the network, to quarrel in the comments. “In other words, the polarization of our society is actually part of the business model,” admitted a former employee of Google.
If the user wants to delete the profile, the algorithm sends him photos of friends and “blackmailing” statements like “They will miss you”. All this is necessary in order to eventually collect as much data as possible about users and sell a maximum of advertising, and to trade as “people” and their attention.
Hawley also offers social networks to completely change the interface: none of his options can’t be built by default, and each user must choose all the specifications yourself. However, the platform shall provide a “neutral presentation” of information. It is assumed that social networks do not have to allocate any portion of the content by color, to increase or decrease the font, forcing it to the user. For example, the icons “accept” and “reject” must be the same size, format and type, to enable users to make a more informed and balanced choice.
Specially created Commission on the issues of Internet addiction needs to monitor the behavior of users and provide their reports to the American Congress not less than once in three years. In the document, employees are required to carefully examine “the processes by which social media companies and other Internet companies, exploiting human psychology and physiology of the brain, interfere with the free choice of people on the Internet (including with respect to the amount of time that people spend on the Internet)”. “Companies working in social networks use many tactics designed to manipulate users in such a way that it undermines their well-being,” confirmed Josh Golin, Executive Director of the organization “For free Commerce childhood”.
In case of approval of the act, the Federal trade Commission and the health Service and social security can create a similar rule, the validity of which will expire in three years if Congress does not ratify them as the law of the United States.
If the bill is passed, practically all platforms will be forced to change. However, in the project SMART too many white spots that Hawley never clarified: if the description of social services of Spotify (with integration with Facebook) and online Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. The impact of Facebook, Twitter and Google + on the minds of people around the world it is impossible to ignore, and obviously their algorithms over time alter our circle of friends, Outlook or habits. It should be recognized that some principles of their work significantly make life easier — for example, AutoPlay videos on YouTube or some entertainment features.
In General, us Senator acknowledges that the business scheme of such services rely on commonplace marketing techniques: people’s desire to look better, their desire to feel their involvement in something greater, craving for ideals. However, he sees the social networks are actually drug dealers who are willing to advertise their new products, causing a strong addiction. A few months of his stay in the U.S. Senate politician has already become famous for its attacks on technology companies. His personal website is full of loud statements in the address of the IT giants.
In may 2019 Hawley sent a letter to the head of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, where he questioned the desire of his company to protect user data. He criticized the March Manifesto “- Oriented privacy vision of social networks” and said that the businessman is just trying to infringe on ripening in this sphere the revolution that is threatening his case. He said the founder of the social network a pretender and hinted that the co-founders of WhatsApp Brian Acton and Jan koum (who left Facebook earlier from-for disagreements with Zuckerberg to monetise the service) would tell a lot “especially interesting” to the judiciary Committee of the U.S. Senate and for the American society. “We both know that your business model monetizes private data, and not conducive to privacy. And we both know that platform touts encrypted messages can still participate in the unfair collection of data,” he said. Hawley gave Him two weeks to reply but apparently it did not.
Many American media ridiculed the activities of the policy, which seeks to give the Federal government more authority to regulate technology. They call it petty radical who abuses the power given to it. “Hawley proposes to authorize the Federal Agency to regulate any decision on the design and interface made by company social networking in the name of protecting some illusory concept of public health,” they write, hinting at some kind of “political vendetta” that the politician allegedly told the out-of-control services.
Some associate this activity with the upcoming 2020 presidential elections in the United States. The youngest US Senator (Hawley 39 years) owes much of his position of acting President — he gave him full support during the election campaign. It seems, in gratitude to their patron Hawley has proposed another bill that would limit the social network. Under the new package of amendments was in Congress, services would have to bear the responsibility for the content published by users. Now the innocence sites such content is guaranteed by the telecommunications act of 1996. The document, called “an Act about the end of support act of Internet censorship”, ironically, was made public on the same day, when Donald trump officially announced the beginning of his campaign.
On the idea of Hawley, platforms, earning more than half a billion dollars a year, or more than 30 million visitors from the United States on a monthly basis, will be required to monitor what users published. To absolve themselves of this obligation, they need every two years to undergo third-party verification of their methods of moderation and algorithms. The results will assess the Federal trade Commission. Many experts called the bill a hard attempt of censorship: according to them, so the state will be able to influence freedom of speech and crush dissent. The owners of the social networks, such innovation is clearly not necessary for everyone: in this case, they will also have to rework the system of content filtering.
The crackdown on the network followed a series of scandals related to Facebook. In 2018, it became known that the social network leaked user data. The victims were almost 90 million users. An affiliated company of Cambridge Analytica collected these data using a third-party application thisisyourdigitallife to manipulate public opinion. These data could be used in the presidential race in 2016 in the US and in the referendum on Brexit (the output of the United Kingdom from the EU).
In April of 2019, it was revealed that employees of the social network “accidentally” collected a pair of usernames-passwords from email 1.5 million users. This happened for three years. To public outrage the company said only a “sorry”. According to the administration of the service, data were used only for advertisement and suggestions about adding as a friend.
In late July, 2019 of the Federal trade Commission sought to Facebook record in the history of the fine in the amount of five billion dollars. Also, the service faces numerous checks: officials plan to verify, correct the platform after the incident with Cambridge Analytica. It is known that initially the FTC was planning to fine the social network for a few tens of billions, but also involve the personal responsibility of Mark Zuckerberg. To avoid this, he managed, by signing a special agreement ratified by the Republicans in the Commission. Democrats believe that it is only a fiction that in fact “allows Facebook off the hook” and to throw dust in the eyes of the public. Will the American government a new opportunity to catch up, is still unknown.
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