image of tausif akram By: Diana K
1 May 2019

New Data Will Provide Insights On Facebook Influencing Democracy

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On this past Monday, 29th of April, Facebook has reportedly announced to carry out the research projects that will enable to extract the information on how social media influences the run of democracy. We have seen a lot of incidents that revolve around social media to trigger the election campaigns. The impact from the IRA-trolling in the 2017’ Germany’s general election and the faux news wide fired during the Chilean elections, also in 2017. For the project conducting purposes, Facebook’s privacy-protected data will be given access to 60 academics that will research the list of democratic topics including the two aforementioned online mishaps.

Elliot Schrage, vice president for special projects alongside with Chaya Nayak who is a strategic initiatives manager at the company, revealed in a blog post that “To assure the independence of the research and the researchers, Facebook did not play any role in the selection of the individuals or their projects and will have no role in directing the findings or conclusions of the research”.

 

 

Facebook has agreed to provide the researchers with specific information regarding the APIs, access to Ad library, and eventually an anonymous URL database once the researchers’ “testing indicates they both are useful for scholarly research and meet appropriate privacy and legal standards.” An independent body will examine and choose the researchers around the world to take part in this project. Not to forget, the company has decided not to interfere with the research that will be conducted.

Last year, Facebook partnered up with Social Science for the research purposes began previous year when company permitted the chosen researchers to share the access to a vast dataset that included all the openly accessible shared links on the Facebook since the start of the year, 2017. Information on the links views and how it broadens across the platform was shared.

“The urgency of this research cannot be overstated,” written by Social Science in a press release. “Concerns about disinformation, polarization, political advertising, and the role of platforms in the information ecosystem have not diminished. If anything, they have heightened.”

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