Facebook gives social scientists unprecedented access to its user data

Projects from around the world will delve into questions such as how misinformation spreads on social-media platforms and who distributes it.

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Facebook is giving social scientists unprecedented access to its data so that they can investigate how social-media platforms can influence elections and alter democracies.

The first group of projects selected for funding involves more than 60 researchers split into 12 teams. They will tackle questions such as how fake news spreads, who distributes it and how to identify it. Their projects, announced on 28 April, will focus on countries including Germany, Chile, Italy and the United States.

The scientists will have access to reams of Facebook data, such as the URLs that users have shared and demographic information including gender and approximate age. The company — which has been accused of privacy violations in the past — is developing new protections aimed at shielding the identities of its users.

By: Heidi Ledford/Nature News

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