Facebook closed the accounts, which now stops the possibility for researchers to study political ads and misinformation, this writes TechCrunch. Facebook accused the researchers of “unauthorized scraping” of user information, which could jeopardize the privacy of other users.
Facebook’s actions affected Laura Edelson and Damon McCoy, two well-known researchers who are connected to New York University’s project “Cybersecurity for Democracy”.
This is not the first time Facebook has acted against the researchers. A few weeks before the 2020 US election, they were asked to stop their research and to withdraw published results. Researchers have used a tool called Ad Observer, which anyone can use. The tool gives researchers an insight into how Facebook targets its ads.
“By shutting down our accounts, Facebook has effectively ended our work,” Edelson said on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Facebook’s actions were noticed by some members of the US Congress. Senator Ron Wyden criticized Facebook’s decision to punish the researchers Twitter while Senator Mark Warner called the decision “very worrying.”
After years of abusing users’ privacy, it’s rich for Facebook to use it as an excuse to crack down on researchers exposing its problems. I’ve asked the FTC to confirm that this excuse is as bogus as it sounds. https://t.co/eHuPiVYFe9
– Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) August 4, 2021