Senate bill would force social media to tell users what their data is worth

Social media platforms tout many of their products as free, a price point consumers almost always find appealing. Two senators who disagree, claiming the costs are merely obscured, have devised a bill to show users how high they are.

The proposal from Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., would require companies with more than 100 million monthly active users to disclose what types of data they collect, how it’s being used, and what it’s worth. The Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broader Oversight and Regulations on Data Act, or DASHBOARD Act, would also force tech companies to inform users which third parties their information is being shared with and give them the option of deleting it.

“For years, social media companies have told consumers that their products are free to the users. But that’s not true — you are paying with your data instead of your wallet,” Warner said in a statement. “The overall lack of transparency and disclosure in this market have made it impossible for users to know what they’re giving up, who else their data is being shared with, or what it’s worth to the platform.”

Among the tech companies that would have to comply with the measure are Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Facebook, which has more than 2.3 billion monthly active users, disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year that its average revenue per user was $6.42.

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