In recent months, many lawmakers, researchers and academics have pressed Facebook for greater transparency into its data — especially surrounding the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. So it was surprising (and more than a little troubling) when a team of researchers recently discovered that thousands of posts around January 6 had disappeared from Crowdtangle, the company’s transparency tool.
According to Facebook, the posts were accidentally removed because of a limit on how the company allows its data to be accessed. Facebook says that it has fixed the error, but some experts have expressed concern that Facebook didn’t disclose the problem in the first place.
“If Facebook knew about this, and just didn’t tell anyone, I think researchers should be pretty concerned about that fact,” NYU researcher Laura Edelson told POLITICO. “I think, at this point, Facebook has lost a tremendous amount of credibility. And I don’t really know how they are going to get it back.”
Edelson has good reason to be worried; last month, her team was personally banned by Facebook for its investigation into the company’s data practices. Even if the social media giant is making some of these decisions in error, it’s still concerning that it has become so difficult for researchers to study how our data is being used.
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