Facebook opens up ‘overwhelming data set’ for election research

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Researchers will soon have a chance to study every link shared on Facebook, thanks to a new data set released through a research partnership with Social Science One. Announced earlier in 2018, the partnership brings together independent academics with data from Facebook and funding from independent foundations, hoping to provide new insight into the impact of social media on elections.

The first data set shared under the new initiative will be a massive and continuously updated database of all public links shared on Facebook, starting in January 2017. The data set includes information on how often a given link was viewed, whether it spread through person-to-person sharing or group pages, and how often it was flagged as spam, hate speech, or misinformation.  The data set also includes information on whether a given link was coded as “hard news” by Facebook’s open graph and when and how it was vetted by Facebook’s internal fact-checkers. That information could be crucial as researchers look into the effectiveness of Facebook efforts to slow the spread of misinformation on its network. The data will be updated continuously, and is expected to include 2 million new and unique URLs shared across 300 million posts each week. “It’s an overwhelming data set for people interested in social media and democracy,” said commission co-chair Nathaniel Persily.

Facebook opens up ‘overwhelming data set’ for election research Facebook to Give Scholars Petabyte of Data on Misinformation (Bloomberg)