Facebook reveals ‘overwhelming data set’ for election research

Soon researchers will be at liberty to study all the links that were shared on Facebook because a new data set has been released through a research partnership with Social Science One. As it was announced at an earlier time this year, the partnership causes independent academics, data from Facebook and funding from independent foundations to come together in order to provide new insight into the impact of social media on elections.

The first data set that will be shared under this new program will be a massive and continuously updated database of all public links shared on Facebook, beginning in January 2017. The data set will inform on how often a link is viewed, if it spread via people-to-people sharing or group pages, and how often it was reported as spam, hate speech, or misinformation.

The data set also includes information on links coded as “hard news” by Facebook’s open graph as well as the period and way it was assessed by Facebook’s internal fact-checkers. Information like this is important for researchers who are looking into the efforts of Facebook to slow down misinformation.

The data will include 2 million new and unique URLs shared across 300 million posts per week. It will only be available for certain research proposals, and this can only be allowed if they pass through anonymous peer review and IRB approval.

A public request for proposals for the purpose of this initiative has been released, inviting social scientists to submit research projects with the use of the data, which the commission hopes will help launch a whole new direction of research into how political matters are being shaped by Facebook. Harvard professor Gary King, co-chairman of the new commission says that, “Social scientists have the tools to find this out, but we need the data, or no one will ever really know.”

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