Facebook partners with external researchers to study impact of social media during 2020 U.S. Presidential election

In a significant development, Facebook Inc disclosed that it has partnered with external researchers to examine its impact during the crucial 2020 U.S. presidential election.

The findings of the studies will be published in the middle of 2021, at the earliest.

The initiative expands its Social Science One project wherein academics study the political impacts of social media on society.

A group of 17 independent researchers from the fields of elections, democracy and social media will now work with internal Facebook data scientists to design the studies.

Facebook expects around 200,000 to 400,000 users to opt-in into the project, which will monitor their every move and behavioral pattern on Instagram and Facebook. In the study, FB’s algorithms will introduce targeted changes to some participants’ experiences, including advertisements or types of posts.

Facebook employees will supply aggregated data to the external academics to protect the privacy of those users.

The project is an updated approach to Cambridge Analytica which sparked America’s great awakening towards online privacy.

After Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, digital social networks have drawn lots of flak for their lax approach towards fake news reporters and misinformation campaigns.

The researchers would not been paid, nor would they be restricted from publishing their findings, said Facebook; it is however entitled to review their research work before publication.

Although Facebook will not compensate the researchers, it will however pay them for the costs of the study, including payments to survey vendors, said Joshua Tucker, professor of politics at New York University who is also one of the many researchers in the project.

In 2019, philanthropies backing FB’s Social Science One project, backed out last year citing the company’s delay in delivering pledged data to researchers. FB countered saying the delays were because of privacy concerns.

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