Social media are part of our daily lives. They play an important
role in building social connections, provide a forum for free debate
on political affairs and society, and can contribute to greater
diversity of opinion and increased democratic participation. Their
misuse, however, can trigger numerous harmful consequences, affecting
individual rights and the functioning of democratic institutions.
Information filtering, data mining, profiling and micro-targeting,
aided by increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems,
risk threatening human dignity and opening the door to the hidden
manipulation of individual behaviour or public opinion.
Public authorities and internet companies should combine forces
to firmly defend freedom of expression and information, stop the
spread of illegal content and ensure quality information. Greater
transparency regarding algorithms, and adequate information about
their functioning for users, will be needed. The Parliamentary Assembly
should encourage the ratification of the Council of Europe’s modernised
Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic
Processing of Personal Data, in order to strengthen data protection
laws, while the major internet companies should rethink their economic
models to give back to users control of their personal data.