Facebook whistleblower, former elected officials join new social media council

Social media
Greg Nash
Social media apps are arranged for a photograph on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.

Experts spanning the public and private sectors are coming together to lead a new initiative launched by Issue One to address the impacts of social media, the advocacy organization announced Wednesday. 

Issue One’s new Council for Responsible Social Media’s members include Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), former Federal Communications Commission Chair Tom Wheeler and others with experience at tech companies, government agencies and civil society organizations. 

The council aims to elevate nonpartisan voices including parents, pediatricians, child psychologists and national security experts to help drive the conversation about social media reform at a time when there’s mounting scrutiny about tech companies from both sides of the aisle. 

The group is designed to address the harms of social media on three areas: children, communities and national security. 

On the topic of communities, the group is aiming to advance a version of social media that “unites us” instead of divides, according to the announcement. The group will try to tackle issues including echo chambers that are fueling polarization and “eroding trust in civil servants.” 

The three issues were raised by Haugen when she came forward last year, but advocacy groups and other experts have been warning about similar issues spanning the tech industry beyond the claims Haugen made about services owned by what is now known as Meta.

The issue of kids’ safety online specifically has been a rare bipartisan issue galvanizing lawmakers. A Senate panel advanced two kids’ online safety bills with broad bipartisan support, and as proposals make their way through Congress, states are pushing forward with their own. California passed a law this summer that added stricter regulation for kids’ online safety. 

Tags Claire McCaskill Claire McCaskill Dick Gephardt Frances Haugen Frances Haugen Issue One Social media Tom Wheeler Tom Wheeler
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