Over the years, Big Tech companies have morphed from mere platforms to major international players with vested financial and political motives and connections. Their roles in influencing elections in Europe must be seriously addressed.
On 15 December, the European Commission presented the Digital Services Act . Among many other changes to the online market, it seeks to provide more transparency over algorithms due to their currently opaque nature.
According to the proposed act, national supervisory authorities should have access to the software documentation and datasets of algorithms under review, while said algorithms should be presented in a “concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language” to the public.
This transparency should also apply to the Big Tech platforms’ algorithms that manage messages inviting users to adopt a certain behaviour on the eve of or during elections. Such messages can have important consequences for democratic processes. While in the United States, the role of Big Tech has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, the very same companies who now play such a prominent part in shaping public opinion are also having a say on European elections in ways that are far from transparent.
Far from the free and open platforms they were upon their inception, Big Tech companies and social networks have risen to an unprecedented level of power from which they play an active role in pol