A consortium of funders of an academic project have threatened to stop supporting the social media company if it does not provide the data it promised to academic researchers by September 30, according to a report published in BuzzFeed News.
According to the report, this warning has been issued by a statement from the Social Science Research Council which is soon to be made public. This organization is a not for profit body that was instrumental in administering the proposal and the grant process which is within a larger project to provide academics with Facebook data.
A pledge to share data to academics studying the effects of social media on democracy was made by Facebook in April 2018. There were reports last week which claimed that there was discontent among the funders and researchers about Facebook delaying the sharing of te necessary data and the decision of the social media company not to provide some of the data that it had promised earlier.
In its defense, Facebook has argued that it had not anticipated that it would be hard to share the data while keeping in line with regulatory requirements and those that protected the privacy and security of its users. However the company has said that even if the funders and Social Science Research Council withdrew their support, it would continue to pursue data sharing with academics.
A letter to the SSRC was sent earlier today by some of the funders that included the Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Omidyar Network wherein they said that they recommend “winding down the project” if Facebook could not deliver some of the crucial data by the end of September. The funders provided support for grants to be made to researchers.
The funders have claimed that the delays by Facebook to deliver data has threatened to end the project. They also said that that what was of concerns was that the company can’t “offer a definitive timetable for when the full set of proposed data can be made available.”
In a statement, Facebook said that its efforts for sharing of data with academics in partnership with Social Science One would continue. Social Science One is a body that was created by academics of Harvard and Stanford Universities to help in data sharing.
“Researchers currently in the program will continue to receive support and Facebook will continue to provide access to data and tooling to all grant recipients – current and future,” the statement said. “We will provide data access to researchers who have not received financial awards through the standard Social Science One RFP processes. Additionally, in partnership with Social Science One, Facebook will continue to make more data available in a secure, privacy-protective manner.”
(Adapted from BuzzFeedNews.com)