Facebook’s move of disabling NYU researchers’ accounts: A delusive commitment to transparency


On Tuesday, Facebook deactivated the accounts of New York University researchers, thereby terminating their research into the capacity of political advertisements to target interested audiences using well-known social media networking.

Facebook stated that the NYU team used “unauthorized methods” to gain access to and gather facts from Facebook users, violating its Terms of Service while learning the spread of incorrect data through political advertising at the NYU Ad Observatory platform. According to Facebook’s privacy program, which was implemented in response to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Order, the company took those steps to prevent unapproved scratching and protect the privacy of individuals.

It stands to reason because Facebook is concerned with adhering to the restrictions and ensuring that no limit abuse is permitted.

However, there appears to be an issue with this activity. Under the FTC Order, there is no criterion like this. Acting Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Samuel Levine issued a statement to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg clarifying:

“I write concerning Facebook’s recent insinuation that its actions against an academic research project conducted by NYU’s Ad Observatory were required by the company’s consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. As the company has since acknowledged, this is inaccurate. The FTC is committed to protecting the privacy of people, and efforts to shield targeted advertising practices from scrutiny run counter to that mission.”

It seems like FTC didn’t order Facebook to do this. Perhaps, Facebook was simply careful or rather misconstrued the rule.

The lawmakers are displeased with the action because it has sparked a whirlwind of complaints about the company’s inclination for secrecy over transparency regarding some of the platform’s extreme unsafe tactics.

According to Edelson PC, Facebook has successfully restricted access to several researchers and newshounds who obtain access to Facebook information through law firm’s works, all of their compositions estimating improper vaccination data with the Virality Project, and a variety of other allies who rely on the law firm’s data.

While Facebook scrutinizes the authenticity of regular posts on its platform, it neglects to examine whether the political advertisements are factually correct or not. For example, the Trump campaign leveraged Facebook ads using disruptive, intense emotional content, an apparent absence in its approach.

The NYU Ad Observatory project developed a browser extension that, once activated, captures information on the commercials that each individual is shown on Facebook – different knowledge about what those ads aimed to quantify the possible outcomes.

The tactic is nearly identical to Cambridge Analytica’s approach to obtaining information on Facebook usage. It alarmed Facebook, which sent the NYU group a discontinuation letter in October of last year, requesting to seal it. The NYU group declined, but Facebook permitted them to continue with the extension until now.

According to Facebook, such information is currently available through the Ads Library. In any event, the NYU group claims that it is insufficient and muddled in a couple of cases and hence does not provide a comprehensive perspective of the implications.

All things considered, Facebook offers the impression of being on the good side of the law, ignoring the fact that the FTC request was incorrectly highlighted as the guideline reason. Yet, officials from NYU supported the Ad Observatory’s team, calling Facebook’s recent developments “disgraceful.”

Transparency is crucial in avoiding the circulation of misinformation, the cultivation of harmful plots and varied lies among the public.

Preferably, Facebook should learn from the outcome. But in any case, it is either unsafe, given the leakage of individual information, or harmful, with Facebook’s image deteriorating in the end.

Tell us what you think of Facebook’s another tryst with the privacy debate. You can reach us out on our LinkedInMarTechScroll



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