Researchers ask Meta to keep CrowdTangle online until after 2024 elections

The Mozilla Foundation and dozens of other research and advocacy groups are reversing their decision to shut down Meta’s research tool CrowdTangle later this year. one the group is urging Meta to keep CrowdTangle online after the 2024 election, saying it would hurt its ability to track election-related disinformation in a year when “nearly half the world’s population” will vote.

The letter, published by the Mozilla Foundation and signed by 90 groups as well as CrowdTangle’s former CEO, comes a week after Meta confirmed it would approve. Instrument in August 2024. “Meta’s decision will prevent the outside world, including election integrity experts, from seeing what’s happening on Facebook and Instagram — in the biggest election year,” the letter’s authors say.

“This means that almost all outside efforts to identify and prevent political disinformation, incitement to violence, and the online harassment of women and minorities will be silenced. This is a direct threat to our ability to protect the integrity of elections.” The group is asking Meta to keep CrowdTangle online until January 2025 and to “fast-track” election researchers to its latest tools.

CrowdTangle has long been a source of frustration for the Meta. This allows researchers, journalists and other groups to track how content is shared on Facebook and Instagram. It is also frequently cited by journalists in unflattering stories about Facebook and Instagram. For example, Engadget trusted In an investigation into why Facebook Gaming was flooded with spam and pirated content in 2022. CrowdTangle also “,” a (now defunct) Twitter bot that publishes daily updates on the most interacted Facebook posts with links. The project was created by New York Times The reporter regularly showed that far-right and conservative pages overperformed, leading Facebook executives to argue that the data did not accurately represent what it was. on the platform.

With the closing of CrowdTangle, Meta highlights the new app instead , provides researchers with new tools for simplified access to publicly available data. The company said it’s more powerful than what CrowdTangle enables, but it’s also more tightly controlled. Researchers from non-profit organizations and academic institutions must apply and be approved for access. And since the vast majority of newsrooms are for-profit organizations, most journalists won’t automatically qualify for access (it’s unclear whether Meta allows reporters in nonprofit newsrooms to use the Content Library).

Another issue, according to CrowdTangle’s former CEO Brandon Silverman, who left Meta in 2021, is that the Meta Content Library is not currently powerful enough to be a full CrowdTangle replacement. “There are some areas where MCL has more data than CrowdTangle, including accessibility and comments,” said Brandon Silverman, former CEO of CrowdTangle, who left Meta in 2021. last week. “But there are some big gaps in the tool for both academics and civil society, and simply claiming that there is more data is not a claim that regulators or the press should take seriously.”

In the statement , Meta spokesman Andy Stone said that “academic and non-profit institutions conducting scientific or public interest research may apply for access to the Meta Content Library, including non-profit election experts.” “The Meta Content Library is designed to contain more comprehensive information than CrowdTangle.”

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