Who Should have the Rights to your Data?

October 8, 2021

Social media, especially Facebook, is an important tool in Wyoming. We use it to keep in touch with our friends and family all over the world. We use it to keep up with the news, what our elected officials are doing, and what is going on in our communities.

But Facebook has grown into an unwieldy entity, one that has unprecedented access to information about each and every one of us. They claim to use this data to ensure we see content that is relevant to us, but this past week, a new story burst on the scene.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen presented serious allegations against Facebook, claiming that they knowingly pushed divisive content and used their algorithms to try and achieve a favorable political outcome for themselves. They did all this while actively ignoring real issues their platforms created.

While Facebook was busy “flagging false information” regarding the 2020 election, they received a presentation of a study about its Instagram platform and Instagram’s impact on teen girls. The results were shocking. 32% of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made it worse. Instagram was literally changing the way girls perceived themselves. Teens in the study blamed Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. Facebook downplayed these results and suppressed the study. They’ve made no effort to change their platform to account for these realities.

Their platforms were actively hurting people, yet they were more concerned about getting Joe Biden elected than they were about the lives of those on their platform. This is unacceptable. Much of the blame for this can be directed at Facebook’s use of algorithms. They are ensuring that you are seeing the most inflammatory content so you’ll spend more time on their platform and you’ll see more ads. They are putting kids at risk around the world to ensure they make more money. I’m working on ways to stop this.

There are quite a few options on the table for how to address the realities we’ve heard about social media platforms recently. I’m listening to all of them and I look forward to hearing from you in Wyoming about what you think we should do here in Congress. Please reach out if you have input on this matter. You can send me an email by going to www.lummis.senate.gov/contact.