December 5, 2020

First Grants For Independent Research on Social Media’s Impact on Democracy Using Facebook Data

From Facebook:

Building on the effort we launched last spring to promote independent research on social media’s role in elections, today our partners at Social Science One and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) announced the first researchers who will gain access to privacy-protected Facebook data. More than 60 researchers from 30 academic institutions across 11 countries were chosen through a competitive peer review process organized by the SSRC.

You can find the full list of research grants awarded and other details on today’s announcement from the SSRC and Social Science One here and here.

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.

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We understand many stakeholders are eager for data to be made available as quickly as possible. While we remain committed to advancing this important initiative, Facebook is also committed to taking the time necessary to incorporate the highest privacy protections and build a data infrastructure that provides data in a secure manner. With these safeguards in place, selected researchers will gain access to the following data:

  • CrowdTangle: CrowdTangle allows researchers to track the popularity of news items and other public posts across social media platforms. The CrowdTangle API will allow researchers to access public Facebook and Instagram data, which includes posts from public pages, public groups and verified profiles. Beginning today, we are providing the researchers selected in this initial round of grants, as well as Social Science One commission members, access to this API.
  • Ad Library API: The Ad Library API provides data on ads related to politics or issues on Facebook in the US, UK, Brazil, India, Ukraine, Israel and the EU. Beginning today, researchers have access to the API. Facebook and Social Science One are also working to provide feedback on the API to help make it more useful for research purposes.
  • Facebook URLs Data Set: The URL data set will be aggregated and anonymized to prevent researchers from identifying any individual Facebook users. This data set includes URLs that have been shared on Facebook by at least 100 unique Facebook users on average who have posted the URL with public privacy settings. This dataset includes the URL link and information on the total shares for a given URL, a text summary of content within the URL, engagement statistics such as the top country where the URL was shared, and information related to the fact-checking ratings from our third-party fact-checking partners. More details on what is contained in this data set can be found in the URL Codebook. Before getting access to this data set, researchers must attend a training session we are leading in June about these data and our research tool. Over the coming months, we will continue to explore ways to expand the scope of the data we make available to researchers in line with our commitment to privacy.

Read the Complete Post

Direct to List of Recipients/Projects

See Also: Statement From Social Science One

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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