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Experts: Online data security could mitigate radicalization, extremism 

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Alex Gonzalez

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(Arizona News Connection) Experts are saying social media algorithms are radicalizing users and increasing extremism around the country ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Michael Chertoff, a member of the National Council on Election Integrity, said better protecting data privacy could make the algorithms less destructive, without infringing on free speech.

"I do think we could regulate access to data, uses of data and the application of algorithms to that data without offending the First Amendment," Chertoff contended.

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Chertoff pointed out data is one of the most critical ingredients in building algorithms using artificial intelligence. He argued data collection by Big Tech companies should be better regulated, as it is used to send specifically targeted and polarizing messages to consumers. A large majority of Americans said they have little to no trust in companies to use AI responsibly, according to the Pew Research Center.

Farah Pandith, senior adviser for the Anti-Defamation League, noted extremism and radicalization are not decreasing. She suggested the first step to improve the situation is by having government and nongovernment stakeholders acknowledge the severity of the situation and to start having more conversations, which she contended is not happening at the scale it needs to be.

"You're not seeing the commitment as a priority area," Pandith stressed. "That shows up in the funding that is required for NGOs that are doing the first responses to all of this that come up with the creative ways. It doesn't show up in the way in which we can scale solutions that we know."

Pandith added solutions are available and called on social media platforms to assume more responsibility for the inciteful content they display.