NDP MP Charlie Angus said on Monday that the incoming Liberal cabinet must take the damning Facebook revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen seriously and rethink their badly-flawed handling of the big tech file.
Angus said that as shocking as the allegations are, they aren’t surprising as the all-party committee identified numerous red flags in their 2019 study. Unfortunately, the Liberal government chose to ignore most of the key recommendations.
Angus said it is time to act, adding: “Whistleblower Haugen has painted a picture of a corporate culture that is deliberately using the mass power of algorithms and AI to drive extremist content and undermine democracy. And yet the Liberal government’s response has been Bill C-10 which was little more than a political dumpster fire. Asking the CRTC to address the massive algorithmic manipulations by Facebook is like bringing a 1980s solution to a 21st century problem.”
Angus advised the Trudeau government to establish an office of Digital Rights and Technology with the mandate and order making powers to address the complex issues of algorithmic transparency, disinformation and extremist content. Among the six key recommendations made by Angus is the call for the feds to invest in research into the cognitive and social damage being done by social media. Big tech has done immense research into embedding deliberately addictive mechanisms that keep people trapped on their screens.
He said: “Ms. Haugen has shown that Facebook knew the Instagram program was having a damaging impact on the psyche of young teens and yet this company is now marketing to children. It is like letting Big Tobacco police itself. We need to invest in research to start looking at the cognitive and social impacts of online media addiction.”