Social Media Algorithm Auditing

Social media has emerged over the last several decades as both an invaluable resource and a source of harm to youth. With the rise in social media use among youth, and the increase in social media platforms’ use of deceptive design techniques, there is growing concern about the harms of these platforms to the mental health and wellbeing of youth. Profit-driven design techniques manipulate user behavior and promote high usage patterns that trap users in loops of engagement, keeping them online for minutes or even hours longer each day than they would otherwise. Why would platforms do this? The answer is simple: The more time users spend online, the more platforms can charge advertisers for a chance to grab our attention. So platforms have come up with a whole arsenal of deceptive design techniques to keep us glued to our screens, regardless of the consequences for users or our communities. Without legal avenues in place to hold platforms accountable, young people are especially exploited by social media platforms’ deceptive design and made more susceptible to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, and other harmful mental health effects.

To address this, we’ve developed model legislation and a supporting guide for advocates to create safer online spaces for youth. Our roadmap provides practical guidance for policymakers and advocates to mandate independent algorithm risk audits and promote transparency on social media platforms, paving the way for a healthier digital environment for youth.

Stay tuned for our upcoming release of these documents:

  • The Social Media Algorithm Accountability Act:Model legislation that can be adapted for any state and that aims to promote social media platform transparency and accountability with regard to how use of these platforms affects the mental and physical health of child users.
  • How to Hold Social Media Platforms Accountable: A Roadmap for State Policymakers & Advocates for Legislation to Require Independent Algorithm Risk Audit: The accompanying roadmap to help guide policymakers and advocates to build support for legislative action using our model legislation.

Whether you’re a lawmaker, advocate, or simply interested in positive change, our tools will provide you with the resources you need to make a difference in the lives of youth. Watch this space for updates, and get ready to take your next steps towards meaningful progress.

STRIPED’s Response to the NTIA Kids Online Health and Safety Request for Comment

In October 2023, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a  notice requesting public comments on “the current and emerging risks of health (including mental health), safety, and privacy harms to minors arising from use of online platforms” (NTIA-2023-0008-0001). Read STRIPED’s response on the Initiative to Protect Youth Mental Health Safety and Privacy Online.