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New bill would make it easier for you to get off Facebook once and for all

A new bipartisan bill announced on Tuesday, October 22, aims at making it easier for you to transfer your social media data to other social media platforms, so you might finally be able to get off of Facebook and other social media sites. 

Called the Access Act, the bill applies to online platforms with products or services that have over 100 million monthly active users, according to CNBC. Platforms like Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and YouTube would be included based on the criteria.

The bill works like this: Users on tech platforms would be able to retrieve their data from that platform using a tool that downloads the data into a machine-readable format. Social media users would also be able to work with outside third parties to update and manage their account and privacy settings within that platform. 

Tech companies would have to have transparent interfaces that would allow competing platforms access. Essentially, the bill wants to allow more competition when it comes to social media platforms, so users have more of a choice of which platform they would rather use.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) want the bill to even out the playing field for social media users by allowing data portability.

With the Access Act, you’d be able to move from platform to platform in a much easier and quicker way. Many critics of social media argue that users want to leave platforms like Facebook, but often feel like they are “locked in” because of photos, important events, interactions, and more that’s keeping them on the site.

“Social media has enormous benefits,” Warner said in a statement to CNBC announcing the bill. “But, as we’ve seen, the tremendous dominance of a handful of large platforms also has major downsides — including few options for consumers who want to use social media to connect with friends, store their photos, or just watch cat videos, but who face a marketplace with just a few major players and little in the way of real competition.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have gone after Big Tech in 2019, claiming that the biggest tech firms have been gobbling up the competition for years. Hawley has been a major proponent for breaking up big tech, introducing multiple bills that would hold tech companies liable for anything posted on their platform, and limit social media addiction tactics like infinite scroll. 

“Your data is your property. Period,” Hawley said in a statement to CNBC. “Consumers should have the flexibility to choose new online platforms without artificial barriers to entry.”

Both Hawley and Warner met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in September during his brief visit to Washington D.C. to try to make amends with Congress. According to an interview with MSNBC, the senators expressed their concerns with Facebook to Zuckerberg during their in-person meetings. 

Digital Trends reached out to Facebook to comment on the Access Act, and we’ll update this story if we hear back. 

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