The students from the NYU forced stopping their research on Facebook's political ad-targeting

Facebook is prohibiting researchers of New York University as in a project students are surveying Facebook's political-ad targeting methods that too only a few days before the US elections.

The project that the students are working on is known as Ad Observatory. They are using a browser plug-in to compile the data about Facebook's political advertisements. Around 6500 volunteers are working on this project, and their main aim is to find which type of users get what kind of political ads.

Usually, Facebook has a private archive which contains the data of Facebook advertisements. However, when Laura Edelson, one of the researchers in this project stated that information on Facebook's political ad is not in their libraries. Laura also reported that the group collected ads which weren't disclosed by Facebook, so they believe that Facebook is not perfect at marking the political ads in their archives.

The work performed by the students is unique from Facebook's tools as the project makes the advertisement information transparent while Facebook does not do so.

Laura even stated that this data needs publics oversight, and Facebook doesn't want to make it available for the public, and hence this is the reason why they have decided to take a step.

As per the information given, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, when Facebook got to know about the Project, the company sent a warning note to the heads of the projects and asked them to stop this work as this project is against the privacy policies of Facebook.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the letter stated that getting Facebook's personal information no matter whatever the reason is strictly prohibited.

A Facebook spokesperson said that Facebook warned the university months ago not to start a project which violates the terms and policies of Facebook. He even said that Facebook's archives are accessed by more than 2 million people every month, and NYU is one of them. Facebook has already made political ads issue very public when compared with other platforms.

He also stated that the information which students are collecting is publicly available on GitHub and other people can take advantage of this public information and hack business pages and use them to earn money.

In reply to this, Laura stated that they are not collecting the personal information or data of Facebook users. Nevertheless, they are compiling the advertisements data and our studying how these ads are targeted.

Facebook also is in the center of political discussions as most of the administrators examine the role that Facebook is playing in the spread of rumors about politics and Facebook is trying their best to control the misinformation on their platform. The company has also decided to ban all political ads.

Laura states that she is happy with Facebook's efforts, but their project showed that it is not enough, and there are plenty of political ads which are not shown to the public.

Facebook sent another note to the project heads warning that they will take action if they do not stop this project by 30 November.

In reply, Laura said they will not listen to Facebook and will not stop this research.

This message was released to the press, and a reporter said that it is alarming that Facebook is hiding the information to avoid the rumors about elections. He even said that it would be awful for democracy if Facebook becomes a guard to journalism.


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