Researchers working with Facebook to study the social media platform’s effect on democracy have threatened to quit, stating that Mark Zuckerberg’s company has failed to make promised data available.
Reuters reports that a group of researchers working with Facebook to study the effects of the website on democracy have threatened to quit this week claiming that Facebook has not provided them with data as it previously promised to do. Philanthropists funding the research states that Facebook granted 83 scholars access to “only a portion of what they were told they could expect,” making it impossible to carry out the research.
Groups backing the project have given Facebook until September 30 to provide the researchers with sufficient data to conduct the study. One main area of concern is a lack of data showing which web pages were shared on Facebook dating back to January 2017. In a statement, Facebook said that it remained committed to the project and would “continue to provide access to data and tooling to all grant recipients — current and future.”
Groups funding the research include the Charles Koch Foundation and Silicon Valley’s Omidyar Network, which said in a statement: “We hope Facebook (not to mention other platform companies) will find a way to provide deeply robust privacy-protected data,” it said, as it believes that “independent scholarly analysis of social media platforms is essential” in order to understand elections and democracy around the world.
This announcement comes only a few months after Facebook launched the program and opened the company’s data to independent scholars for the first time; whether the project will be completed remains to be seen.