What data is Facebook sharing in a grant to researchers?
Even though Facebook says that the research is independent, there is some doubt whether Facebook will be transparent enough to share un-altered data to these researchers.
Facebook has agreed to share data for research in partnership with Social Science One and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Facebook didn’t play any role in selecting any of these individuals for the project and will also have no role in directing the findings or conclusion of the results.
More than 60 researchers from 30 academic institutions, spread across 11 counties have been selected for this research through a competitive review process organized by the SSRC. These are the changes that the social media company is making before sharing the data to the users:
1. Facebook says that it is building a data sharing infrastructure to provide access to these researchers in secured manner. This infrastructure will allow sharing of data in a secured way.
2. Facebook will also remove personal identifiable information from the data sets.
3. Facebook is testing applications of different privacy settings, to make sure an individual can’t be re-identified without affecting the reliability of the results.
4. It limits the number of queries a researcher can run, limiting the amount of information they can mine.
The real question here is will there be a difference in the data that Facebook provides to researchers? What exactly is the nature of this data? Well, we’ve listed a few bits of data that they actually may have access to.
CrowdTangle: CrowdTangle is an API that will allow researchers to track the popularity of news items and other public posts across social media platforms including Instagram. It will provide access to posts from public pages, public groups and verified profiles.
Ad Library API: This is one of the most important Facebook API accesses that the researchers will be getting. It provides access to the data on ads related to politics in countries including US, UK, Brazil, India, Ukraine, Israel and the EU.
Facebook URLs Data Set: This URL dats set will be a collection of URLs shared by at least 100 unique Facebook users publicly. The information that researchers will get access through this is the number of total shares of the particular URL, text summary of the content within the URL, engagement statistics of where (country) the URL was shared. Facebook will also share the fact-checking ratings from its third-party fact-checking partners.
The fastest way fake news and propaganda spreads is though sharing links. Facebook has already limited the number of shares on WhatsApp. Sharing false information has incited violence across various states in India which also lead to the death of many people.
Who knows where we’re headed to in the near future but one thing we can surely say is that data is going to be the currency of the future.