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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Firefox maker Mozilla and a group of advocacy organizations are highlighting ways Big Tech platforms' use of machine learning allows misinformation to flourish, in a memo Tuesday.

Why it matters: Big Tech companies rely on AI and machine learning to decide which content to promote and to flag problematic posts.

The systems operate with little transparency or accountability, according to the memo, written by New America's Open Technology Institute, the Anti-Defamation League, Avaaz, Decode Democracy and Mozilla.

While automated systems can increase efficiency and help limit human moderators' exposure to harmful content, they open the door to other problems.

  • "Decreased human oversight increases the risk of errors from automated systems, which can result in the amplification of hate, extremism, systemic biases, discrimination, and misleading information," the groups wrote.

The big picture: While focused on misinformation, the memo highlights a range of other issues caused by over-reliance on machine learning, including content policies that allow politicians to lie as well as advertising algorithms that help select viewers in way that can lead to discrimination in housing and employment.

Go deeper

Report: Facebook sidelined hate speech study

The Meta and Facebook logos. Photo: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook researchers last year assembled a study of the "worst of the worst" hate speech content on the company's platform and made recommendations for how to curtail it, according to a Washington Post report published on Sunday.

But Facebook officials, afraid "the new system would tilt the scales by protecting some vulnerable groups over others" and concerned about "the potential for backlash from 'conservative partners,'" decided against implementing those recommendations, according to the Post.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.

Senate Republicans block voting rights bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Jan. 18. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' voting rights legislation from coming to a final vote on Wednesday in what was largely viewed as a doomed effort from the start.

Why it matters: The failed vote underscores the Democratic Party's current uphill battle to pass sweeping legislation in a 50-50 Senate.