How Facebook Quietly Blocks Researchers From Studying Site’s Harmful Effects

Scientists and journalists have been banned and prevented from collecting and accessing data on its services

Even as Facebook continues to come under fire after a devastating series of leaks on its internal research, the company is quietly making changes to its code — actions that are blocking researchers from accessing clean data and studying potentially harmful effects of the platform.

Facebook in September started rolling out an update to its code that watchdog groups, researchers and journalists say interfere with their ability to monitor the platform’s ads and content. That means organizations like news nonprofit The Markup, which had been researching Facebook data through its Citizen Browser project, have had trouble determining how alternative right-wing content in Germany garnered more reach than other political parties.

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Antoinette Siu

Media and Tech Reporter • • Twitter: @antoinettesiu