Facebook set off a firestorm of controversy earlier this month when it banned a team of researchers from NYU who were investigating advertising practices on the platform. And now, multiple high-profile foundations and organizations have penned an open letter to the social media giant slamming it for its actions.
The letter was signed by leaders of the Mozilla Foundation, Ford Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and more. In it, the organizations criticize Facebook for obstructing the essential work required to understand how disinformation spreads on the platform.
“This is only the latest example of Facebook’s attempts to curtail journalism and independent, academic research into their business and advertising practices,” the open letter stated. “This research also uncovered how advertisers exploit the industry’s ability to micro-target advertisements, the extent to which bad actors use these platforms to exacerbate societal rifts and inequities, and the costs to civil society.”
Experts widely believe that the NYU researchers didn’t do anything worth meriting such a harsh punishment. Which begs the question: why exactly did Facebook take such aggressive actions to stop them from prying into its advertising practices? We’ll likely never get a straight answer, but at least the company has been forced to publicly take responsibility for its decision.
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