Dublin, Ireland, was stunned a month ago by riots that transformed its downtown into chaos, the worst rioting in decades, stemming from far-right online rumors about an attack on children.
The riots, like Jan. 6, appear to be a direct outgrowth of the amplification ecosystem supported by social media networks such as TikTok, Google’s YouTube and Meta’s Instagram, which likely keep their European headquarters in Dublin for tax reasons.
Ireland, long ridiculed for bowing to Big Tech, has now come out with a powerful proposal to address the problems of algorithmic amplification. Ireland set up Coimisiún na Meán, a new enforcer, this year to set rules for digital platforms.
It has proposed a simple, easily enforceable rule that could change the game: All recommender systems based on intimately profiling people should be turned off by default.
In practice, that means that the big platforms cannot automatically run algorithms that use information about a person’s political views, sex life, health or ethnicity. A person will be able to switch an algorithm on, but those toxic algorithms will no longer be on by default. Users will still have access to algorithmic amplification, but they will have to opt in to get it. [Continue reading…]