The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media Transparency

Brandon Silverman is a former Facebook executive and founder of the data analytics tool CrowdTangle. Brandon joined Facebook in 2016 after the company acquired CrowdTangle, a startup designed to provide insight into what content is performing well on Facebook and Instagram, and he left in October 2021, in the midst of a debate over how much information the company should make public about its platform. As the New York Times described it, CrowdTangle “had increasingly become an irritant” to Facebook’s leadership “as it revealed the extent to which Facebook users engaged with hyperpartisan right-wing politics and misleading health information.”

This week on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Brandon about what we mean when we talk about transparency from social media platforms and why that transparency matters. They also discussed his work with the Congress and other regulators to advise on what legislation ensuring more openness from platforms would look like—and why it’s so hard to draft regulation that works.

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