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Here’s how Mozilla plans to investigate platform algorithms and their impact on people globally

Mozilla’s Open Source Research and Investigations team will scrutinize video content on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, as well as study platform interference with local elections

To study the influence of algorithm-based platforms on people and society at large, Mozilla is establishing an Open Source Research and Investigations (OSRI) team on June 13, the organisation announced in a blogpost. It is noteworthy that the OSRI team will also study platform interference with local elections in countries outside the US. What’s the objective? The OSRI team is expected to help independent researchers who investigate the impact of technology on society and guide “legislative solutions”, but often face shortage of funds and also legal challenges by big platforms “hampering their vital work”. According to the blogpost, OSRI will address these hurdles and produce independent investigations as well. These studies, as the blog states, will aim to look at “real life experiences of people alongside platform algorithms”. Why it matters: It is imperative to study the nature and extent of harm that platform algorithms can cause to society, to devise better tech policies. While there are multiple reports on how algorithmic bias can lead to discrimination and misinformation and can hurt people’s basic rights, deeper insights into how these platforms operate can strengthen the grounds to demand accountability from the makers. Whether or not Mozilla’s plan to leverage crowdsourced data for enabling research will help in highlighting underreported issues or experiences from different parts of the world is something to watch out for. More about OSRI: According to the blog, OSRI’s work will be based on crowdsourced data donations. Crowdsourced data is essentially a dataset built with inputs from…

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Curious about privacy, surveillance developments and the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights.

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