Facebook declared on Monday it would make available its data to the academics researching the impact of social media on elections, part of an effort for impeding the manipulation in social platforms. The leading social networks claimed almost 60 researchers from 30 academic institutions across 11 nations were selected under a reviewing process by the Social Science Research Council and the independent group Social Science One.
Facebook started the research drive last year after disclosures of foreign influence campaigns on the 2016 US election and the Brexit polling in Britain. It started advocating approaches last year, and on Monday revealed its first research approvals.
In a blog post, Facebook executives Chaya Nayak and Elliot Schrage said, “ 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”.
They added, “ we hope this initiative will deepen public understanding of the role social media has on elections and democracy and help Facebook and other companies improve their products and practices.”
The researchers will be approved the access to the internal data of Facebook through a “ first-of-its-kind data sharing infrastructure to provide researchers access to Facebook data in a secure manner that protects people’s privacy”.
She added, “ some of these steps include building a process to remove personally identifiable information from the data set and only allowing researchers access to the data set through a secure portal”.
Nathaniel Persily and Gray King of Social Science One claimed in a statement the researchers will seek to shift rapidly for helping social networks improving their safety and morality. They wrote, “ the urgency of this research cannot be overstated”.
They also added, “elections in India are already underway, the European Parliamentary elections will take place in short order, and the US presidential primary campaigns have begun in earnest. Concerns about disinformation, polarization, political advertising, and the role of platforms in the information ecosystem have not diminished. If anything, they have heightened. ”