Facebook has banned the personal accounts of academics who researched ad transparency and the spread of misinformation on the social network. Facebook says the group violated its term of service by scraping user data without permission. But the academics say they are being silenced for exposing problems on Facebook’s platform.
The researchers were part of NYU Ad Observatory, a project created to examine the origin and spread of political ads on Facebook. As the group explained in a blog post in May, their aim is to uncover who pays for political ads and how they are being targeted. Such work has important implications for understanding the spread of disinformation on Facebook, as the company does not fact-check political ads.
Fact-checking doesn’t have to be some all-inclusive guidebook through the meanders of Facebook. One or a few essential points…clear even to collegiate AI is sufficient to demonstrate the intent to maintain honesty. Advances can and would be made by the growing number of geeks in this land who are concerned with misinformation. Associating profiteering from lies with technology defeats many of the premises of an “open internet” that most of us began with.