Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Inc. has teamed up with a group of third-party researchers to figure out how the content and user behavior on social media apps affect the 2020 election.
A group comprising 17 university researchers will study how Facebook and Instagram affect political polarization and other similar issues. The group will also look at how these powerful platforms influence people to vote, a communications professor at the University of Texas Talia Stroud, who is co-chairing the research group said.
Users must consent to participate and will be paid for their participation in the research, according to Chaya Nayak, who spearheads Facebook’s open research and transparency team. Facebook is funding the costs to participants, but the researchers aren’t taking money from the tech giant.
In a blog post, Facebook said the researchers can publish its findings without the company’s approval. “We thought it was incredibly important as a group that no one takes money from Facebook,” a politics professor at New York University, and co-chair of the research group Joshua Tucker said.
“It was crucial to our independence,” Tucker added. Facebook played an important role in the 2016 election, but it wasn’t widely known until months later when it was revealed that Russian actors used the company’s services to spread disinformation. Facebook has come under fire several times for the divisive political content that floats around its platform.