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74% want stricter algorithms controls – survey
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22 Jan 2024 / technology Print

'74% want stricter controls on algorithms'

A survey has found that almost three-quarters (74%) of the Irish population believe that social-media algorithms should be regulated more strictly.

The research, commissioned by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and campaigning group Uplift, examined attitudes to algorithms, which select content and insert it into users’ online feeds.

The poll also showed that more than four-fifths (82%) of people across Ireland were in favour of forcing social-media companies to stop building up specific data about users’ sexual desires, political and religious views, health conditions and or ethnicity, and using that data to pick what videos are shown to people.

The research was conducted by Ireland Thinks, using a representative sample of 1,270 people, selected across age, income, education, and region across Ireland.

‘Recommender systems’

The ICCL said that the findings came in the wake of what it described as “a major step” taken by the new online-safety watchdog Coimisiún na Meán.

Its new draft rules say that ‘recommender systems’, based on intimately profiling people, should be turned off by default on social-media video platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok.

Dr Johnny Ryan (senior fellow of ICCL) said that users, and not algorithms, should have the freedom to decide what they saw and shared online.

Siobhan O’Donoghue of Uplift commented: “Big Tech’s toxic recommender systems and algorithms are amplifying hate speech, weaponising every fault line within our communities – driven by relentless surveillance to maximise ‘engagement’ and ultimately profits.”

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland