Facebook Misleads Researchers

Teodora Dobrilova
Teodora Dobrilova

Updated · Feb 21, 2022

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Last Friday, The New York Times reported that Facebook has been providing incomplete information about how users interact with posts and links, undermining researches.

Incomplete Reports

For the past two years, researchers have been examining data about misleading and fake information. They’ve been gathering it from various websites, including Facebook.

Turns out, however, that the social media giant might have been giving incomplete data.

Currently, 71% of Americans are on Facebook.  In its report, the company included the interactions of half of those users. It singled out those who have engaged with pages enough to make their political stance clear.

The issue was discovered by Fabio Giglietto from the University of Urbino in Italy. He compared the numbers in a publicly released report in August to those Facebook provided for research purposes. They weren’t the same.

Again in August, the social media platform banned academics from collecting data, because they were doing it “without permission.”

“This undermines trust researchers may have in Facebook,” said Cody Buntain. He’s a social media researcher at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and part of Social Science One - the group of researchers, working with Zuckerberg’s platform.  “A lot of concern was initially voiced about whether we should trust that Facebook was giving Social Science One researchers good data. Now we know that we shouldn’t have trusted Facebook so much and should have demanded more effort to show validity in the data.”

Facebook’s Response

The company has since apologized to the academics. Representatives claim that only 30% of the data was about US citizens. They are, however, unaware of the rest of the report shows actual numbers.  

According to Mavis Jones from Facebook, the confusion is due to a technical error. The company is trying to resolve the issue as fast as possible.

Users are advised to install a VPN, if they want to avoid Facebook gathering data about their browsing activities.

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Teodora Dobrilova

Teodora Dobrilova

Teodora devoted her whole life to words – reading, writing and trying to be original on social media. She got certified in digital marketing but still feels she’s not cool enough to be an influencer. (We all disagree – she influences the team pretty well.) She finished a master’s degree focused in Literature, Publishing, Mass Media. Her hobbies include traveling, and reading. Teddy hopes that yoga will be the thing to finally teach her some patience and show her the path toward world domination. Maybe modern tech can also help her with that.

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