Ex-Facebook executive and CrowdTangle cofounder Brandon Silverman quits Silicon Valley for Capitol Hill to craft laws to make social media more transparent
- Former Facebook executive Brandon Silverman wants to make social media platforms more transparent.
- Silverman joined Facebook when his startup CrowdTangle was acquired by the
techgiant in 2016.
Former Facebook executive and CrowdTangle founder Brandon Silverman is helping regulators craft legislation to make social media platforms more transparent, The New York Times reported.
Silverman joined Facebook when his startup CrowdTangle, which tracks content gaining traction on Facebook, was acquired by the tech giant in 2016.
The media, for example, uses CrowdTangle to see which stories readers are engaging. Facebook itself could also exploit it to reveal how people interact with extreme political views and misinformation. But the project became an "irritant" to Silverman's bosses, The New York Times reported.
Silverman left Facebook on October 8, 2021, and was contacted about working with US senators on the transparency legislation three weeks later. Facebook's parent firm subsequently rebranded to Meta.
Nathaniel Persily, the James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford University who first called for and drafted a platform transparency and accountability bill in October 2021, told The New York Times that Silverman was "instrumental" in molding part of the legislation that could force platforms to share real-time data about what is spreading on them.
"What's happening right now, though, is that a few private companies are disseminating a massive amount of the world's
"I think figuring out ways to both help and, in some cases, force, large platforms to be more transparent with news and civic content as it's in the process of being disseminated can ultimately help make social platforms better homes for public discourse — and in a lot of ways, help them live up to a lot of their original promise."
Silverman's resignation came six months after the break-up of CrowdTangle, which had operated semi-independently within Facebook before moving to a team dealing with misinformation in April 2021, The New York Times reported separately.
The shift resulted from a year-long battle over transparency, with Silverman amongst the Facebook executives who were arguing it should publish data about what is happening on the platform.
The social media transparency bill, introduced by Democrats Chris Coons and Amy Klobuchar, and Republican Rob Portman, could require social media platforms to give researchers access to their data.
Facebook and Instagram's parent company, Meta, is grappling with heightened scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a trove of internal documents. Facebook's own research showed that Instagram is bad for teen mental health, while other documents revealed the company prioritized content moderation differently across parts of the world.
Announced on December 9, the bipartisan legislation came just days after an international coalition of more than 300 scientists published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg asking him to open the company's doors to outside researchers who need to investigate the effects of Facebook and Instagram teen mental health.
A spokesperson for Meta said the firm was working on new tools to provide more transparency about what was being shared on Facebook, and noted that competing social platforms do not provide such transparency.
"By design, CrowdTangle provides insight on shares and comments on a subset of public pages," the spokesperson said. "We believe a more rounded approach to transparency requires new tools. Designing a new approach is underway and will provide a more comprehensive view."
- OPINION: World Biofuel Day — Can biofuel help sustainably meet the growing energy needs of India?
- Kotak Mahindra rolls out a lifestyle focused salary account
- Trading on Indian crypto exchange WazirX drops by over 55%, WRX token loses sheen
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4, Z Flip 4, Watch 5 series, and Buds 2 Pro launched: Check price, specifications and photos
- Will Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha be the box of chocolates Bollywood is waiting for?