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Politics Facebook fights NYU political ad research project, argues it violates the site's data collection policies: report

03:16  24 october  2020
03:16  24 october  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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An analysis of Facebook ’ s Ad Library by researchers at New York University found "significant NYU researchers say Facebook advertisers lied about their identity. Many ads sidestepped the Facebook has tightened its requirements for political ads since the research was conducted as well

A total of 2.2m ads on Facebook and Instagram have been rejected and 120,000 posts withdrawn for attempting to “obstruct voting” in the upcoming US presidential election, Facebook ’ s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg has said.

Facebook is reportedly fighting a New York University (NYU) research project over its data on political ad targeting practices, demanding that the program cease collecting any more information without its permission.

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The feud, reported by The Wall Street Journal, revolves around the NYU Ad Observatory, which has recruited thousands of volunteers to collect information about political ads Facebook shows to users.

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The stealth political ads were estimated to cost at least million, equivalent to 6 percent of all the money spent on Facebook messages in the U. S . during the research period, from May 2018 until June 2019, according to estimates from New York University researchers . The academics also found

We're temporarily stopping all ads about social issues, elections and politics in the US after the polls close on November 3. We'll notify advertisers when this Given the evolving COVID-19 situation, we have fewer people and resources available to process new authorizations for ads about social issues

Facebook wrote in an Oct. 16 letter to the program that the project breaks its rules regarding collecting data in bulk.

"Scraping tools, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a permissible means of collecting information from us," wrote Facebook privacy policy official Allison Hendrix.

If the university doesn't end the project and delete the data it has collected, she wrote, it may "be subject to additional enforcement action."

The dispute comes amid intense scrutiny over political advertising on social media and the spread of disinformation online ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Facebook has taken steps to rein in the spread of disinformation by barring new political ads before Election Day and suspend all political ads indefinitely starting the evening of Nov. 3 to prevent false information from spreading regarding the election's results. It also runs an archive of ads on its platform.

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Facebook has built its highly profitable social network off its users, selling advertisements based on their ages, interests and other details. “Investors are reacting to fears of regulation and the consequences of regulation,” said Brian Wieser, a senior research analyst at Pivotal Research Group.

This is the web page for the report "An Analysis of United States Online Political Advertising " released by the group at NYU conducting research on Online GitHub is home to over 50 million developers working together to host and review code, manage projects , and build software together.

The company is still facing blowback from what critics say was a lack of transparency in the 2016 cycle, and observers are still closely monitoring what pieces of information mushroom across the platform and other social media sites.

The NYU program is intended to provide journalists and the public with the ability to look up various details of any given ad, including who paid for it, when it ran and if any geographic area was targeted. But Facebook maintained the effort would violate its rules and that it could change its code to block the researchers from collecting data, though NYU has already collected data on over 200,000 ads.

"We informed NYU months ago that moving forward with a project to scrape people's Facebook information would violate our terms," Facebook spokesman Joe Osborne said in a statement to The Hill. "Our Ad Library, which is accessed by more than 2 million people every month, including NYU, already provides more transparency into political and issue advertising than TV, radio or any other digital ad platform."

NYU did not immediately responded to a request for comment from The Hill.

The issue of outside access to Facebook data is a touchy subject for the tech behemoth, which was burned in 2016 after Cambridge Analytica obtained unauthorized access to Facebook user data and used it for political profiling, sparking an avalanche of concerns over user privacy.

Union-linked group spending big to target swing states on Facebook .
Since July, WorkMoney has been among the site's top 10 political ad buyers in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.WorkMoney, which says its mission is to offer nonpolitical financial advice for people suffering from the coronavirus, has spent $4.5 million on these social media ads since its Facebook page was created in March. Those ads almost exclusively target people in election battleground states.

usr: 1
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