It’s part of an academic study to see what impact the platform will have in the 2020 elections.
4 min read
The media and government officials defamed Facebook primarily for unfairly influencing the results of the 2016 US election. Now the social media giant is conducting an independent study to see what impact it is actually having on voters.
In a blog post, Facebook announced that it would conduct a “new research partnership to better understand the impact of Facebook and Instagram on key political attitudes and behaviors during the 2020 US election”. Selected users of both platforms will receive invitations to participate in the study.
For many participants who choose to participate, Facebook will ask them to deactivate their accounts in the month before the election. Facebook estimates that between 200,000 and 400,000 American adults will choose to participate in the study. To do this, they must, for example, conduct surveys or agree to a different product experience. Participants can earn up to $ 20 per week, depending on the case TechSpot.
Why is Facebook doing this?
According to Facebook, the study should help to better understand the effects of social media on democracy. “Facebook has become a stage for democratic debates between citizens, candidates and voters, and activists and interest groups can also make their case,” write Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications, and Chaya Nayak, director of Facebook Open Research and Transparency Teams. “That means Facebook and other social media companies have a huge responsibility.”
Part of that responsibility is to examine how users use your platform to promote democracy instead of propaganda or so-called “fake news”.
Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerberg have received significant criticism for allowing their platform to be influenced by hostile actors from foreign governments such as Russia. They have also come under fire for allowing political advertising while other social media companies like Twitter have banned it.
Some might argue that the Facebook independent study is nothing more than a PR move. Regardless of his motives, the company tries to deal proactively with the topic before making the election.
How do you choose the participants?
While many people would like to volunteer to get paid to deactivate their account for a few weeks, the study doesn’t work that way. Facebook invites users to participate based on an algorithm. “The sample is designed to ensure that attendees reflect the diversity of America’s adult populations, as well as Facebook and Instagram users,” say Clegg and Nayak. While Facebook pays study participants, researchers are not paid to maintain their independence.
What does Facebook ask the study participants?
Those who choose to participate in the study are asked to participate in several research methodologies, including surveys, behavioral data analysis, and changes to their user experience. For example, some attendees may see fewer ads in certain categories such as entertainment or politics. Others may see more or less newsfeed posts on certain topics. Other participants are asked to stop using Facebook or Instagram, or to install an application on their smartphone that tracks other digital media they have consumed.
When will we know the results?
According to Facebook representatives, the results of the study will not be published until mid-2021. So we have to wait long after Trump or Biden are elected.