Facebook has had a rocky relationship with researchers recently, even banning a few that it said violated the company’s standards. That trend continued last week when the company gave researchers flawed and incomplete data about how users interact with posts, providing info for only about half the users in the U.S.
According to Cody Buntain, a researcher at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the mistake “undermined trust researchers may have in Facebook.”
“A lot of concern was initially voiced about whether we should trust that Facebook was giving Social Science One researchers good data,” Buntain continued. “Now we know that we shouldn’t have trusted Facebook so much and should have demanded more effort to show validity in the data.”
For its part, Facebook said that the mistake was due to a “technical error” and that it “proactively told impacted partners about and are working swiftly to resolve” the issue. Members of Facebook’s Open Research and Transparency team also held a call with researchers last week to apologize for the snafu. However, it’s hard to blame the researchers for being suspicious of Facebook’s motives. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the social media giant has tried to obscure what it’s doing with our data.
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