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Researchers say Facebook has failed to provide promised data

The company vowed in 2018 to help academics research social media's effect on democracy.

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Published Aug 28, 2019   Updated May 20, 2021, 5:19 am CDT

A project to determine the effects of social media on democracy could cease over what researchers say is a failure from Facebook to share pertinent data, BuzzFeed News reports.

Although the social media company vowed last year to provide academics with all the necessary information, funders of the research project are threatening to pull out after months of waiting.

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC), a group involved in helping academics receive the Facebook data, plans to give the social media company until Sept. 30 to fulfill its promise.

The deadline comes after funders of the project, which includes the Democracy Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Omidyar Network, told the SSRC to begin “winding down the project” over Facebook’s inaction.

Facebook has argued that providing the data it promised has proven to be trickier than initially thought due to regulatory requirements concerning the privacy of its users.

The social media company has also said that it would continue to provide academics with data even if the SSRC backs out of the project.

The initiative to aid scholars in assessing social media’s impact on society came after Facebook was criticized for not taking more action to stop the spread of misinformation on its platform during the 2016 presidential election.

“Facebook plays an important role in elections around the world—helping people connect and discuss the important issues of the day,” the company said last year. “We were slow to spot foreign interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, as well as issues with fake accounts and fake news.”

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H/T BuzzFeed News

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*First Published: Aug 28, 2019, 12:50 pm CDT