Facebook Opens Its Data To Academicians To Understand Social Media's Influence On Elections
To help understand the role of Facebook on elections, the social media giant has decided to open up its privacy-protected data to academics.
Sixty academics from thirty academic institutions across 11 countries will get a chance to look at Facebook’s data from January 2017 to February 2019. The academics were chosen by Facebook partners from Social Science One and the Social Science Research Council. However, the time period does not include the US general elections or the Brexit vote.
Facebook in its blog post mentioned that it hopes that the initiative will deepen public understanding of the role of social media on elections and democracy and help Facebook and other companies improve their products. Experts, however, are calling it a resilient move by the company after its reputation was tarnished due to multiple instances in recent past, including the Cambridge Analytica Scam, where people questioned its privacy protection.
All the chosen researchers will be told how the advertisers and marketers utilise Facebook’s data. The researchers will also be given access to data from a CrowdTangle API. This API will help the researchers to keep an eye on public Facebook and Instagram posts; Facebook’s Ad Library API, which provides data on ads related to politics or issues. Apart from these, the CrowdTangle API will also provide access to the researchers on Facebook’s URLs Data set to let them know the number of times a particular URL has been shared on the social network.
Facebook also mentioned that it had no role in choosing the researchers or their projects and assured that it would have no direct role in the findings or conclusion of the research.