Facebook's Impact on Elections to be Studied Thoroughly, thanks to a number of new Research Projects!

Facebook has recently green-lit a number of research projects for studying how social media affects democracy. Over 60 academics will be given access to confidential Facebook data, which will enable them to thoroughly conduct research into various topic such as the spread of spam and fake news during elections in various parts of the world in 2017, among others.

Data from the platform’s APIs for its Ad Library, CrowdTangle, and an unidentified URL dataset will be shared with the researchers. To get selected for these research projects, Academics from around the world competed to get the chance of a lifetime. Additionally, to assure independence of the task, Facebook denied any involvement in both the selection process and actual research as it progresses.

Social Science One reports that while some of the data will be available to the researchers right away, other datasets will be provided as the research progresses and once it is verified that those datasets are crucial for the research as well as are in accordance with the privacy and legal standards.

Social Science One and Facebook have been working together since last year when Facebook shared a massive dataset (that was comprised of a constantly updated database of every publicly shared link on Facebook since the start of 2017). The shared information also included other details such as how a link was viewed and its reach expanded across the platform.

Social Science One is well-aware of the fact that the research is quite urgent and important as concerns regarding election interference, spreading of fake information, polarization etc. are at an all-time high.

The Facebook/Social Science collaboration was not always as strong as it is right now as Facebook had to suspend Crimson Hexagon last year after accusing the company of violating Facebook policies and collecting data.

Crimson Hexagon is a company co-founded by Gary King, who also serves as the co-chair of Social Science One. However, King denied involvement in the company’s everyday operations. Here’s hoping that the current projects reach their completion without any sort of controversy.

First Grants Announced for Independent Research on Social Media’s Impact on Democracy Using Facebook Data
Photo: Facebook

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