US Senate advocates for transparency in Google, Facebook, and YouTube search results
The Filter Transparency Act will apply to websites and mobile applications.
Did you know that different people, clogging any identical request in Google, receive completely different answers in the search results window. This is because Google personifies the search results based on the data that it has on you. It can be gender, age, place of residence, interests, etc.
Some people find this convenient, but others claim it’s a violation of their right to choose content. After all, it is known that Google personalizes search results even in incognito mode (It is not clear then why incognito mode is needed).
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), a new bill is being prepared in the US Senate, according to which large Internet companies should inform users that their results use “opaque algorithms” and offer consumers the opportunity to view non-personalized search results or content. It is called the Filter Transparency Act or Filter Bubble.
The term Filter Bubble was coined by Upworthy activist and cofounder Eli Pariser to describe the socially damaging effects of showing fragmented and highly personalized content to Internet users.
Bipartisan support. The main lobbyist for the bill is Republican Senator John Thune, but he has the support of US Senate members from both parties. In an interview, he stated that the bill was designed to improve “transparency”, “choice” and “control” for consumers. Here's the gist of what a bill (. Pdf) requires from platforms:
“[The platform] notifies platform users that the platform uses an opaque algorithm that draws conclusions based on user data to select the content that the user sees. Such a notification should be presented on the platform in a clear and visible form whenever a user first interacts with an opaque algorithm, and may be a one-time notification that may be rejected by the user.
[Platform] makes available a version of the platform that uses the input transparency algorithm and allows users to easily switch between the version of the platform that uses the opaque algorithm and the version of the platform that uses the input transparency algorithm by selecting the prominent icon that should be displayed where the user interacts with an opaque algorithm. "
Limited impact on Google results. While “personalization” is important for most marketers and IT companies, the proposed law aims to exclude any personalization used by algorithms. Although there is a widespread belief that Google strongly personalizes the results, the company has previously stated that this is not so, except for the location and some “direct context from the previous search.”
From a practical point of view, this will have a limited impact on Google. This can have a much greater impact on companies such as Facebook, YouTube (Google), and possibly even Amazon. But it will also affect any application or website that uses an algorithm that takes into account personal data or context.
Wide application for content sites, social networks. The law will have to apply to “any publicly accessible website, Internet application or mobile application, including a social network site, video sharing service, search engine or content aggregation service”.
Not without politics. Republicans believe that “conservative voices” are “filtered out” by large Internet platforms that they consider biased. Democrats believe that platforms like Facebook are manipulated by bad actors, and they are partly responsible for increasing the polarization of the electorate.
The proposed law will not affect companies with less than 500 employees, revenue of less than $ 50 million or an audience of less than a million users.
If any version of the bill is eventually adopted, the Federal Trade Commission will be responsible for its implementation.
Why should SEO, SMM and PPC marketers care? Congress is determined to regulate large technology companies, which have caused considerable frustration and concern on Capitol Hill.
However, do people need this? It is likely that most people will use the default version of the results and will not switch to the unfiltered version. There is already a lot of behavioral evidence on this subject (see California Consumer Protection Act). It’s easier for people to click the “Accept All” button without reading carefully.
And how many people do you think will use search without filters?
We remind you that Futureinapps is engaged in SEO and SMM promotion, as well as setting up and maintaining contextual advertising in Google Adwords and Yandex.Direct.
As marketers, we are for a personalized search, however, in any situation, our specialists will find the best solution to promote your business.