The project was launched in March 2020 to investigate how Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes images and videos. Around 1500 volunteers installed a browser add-on that read their Instagram newsfeeds and sent the data to Algorithmwatch. From the data collected, the research team had concluded, among other things, that users would be encouraged to post pictures with a lot of bare skin and that politicians would get a greater reach if they did not use text. Facebook denied these results.
GDPR violation too?
Also disconnected AdObserver
Algorithmwatch has now decided to go public after Facebook blocked a similar project from New York University. With the plug-in AdObserver, the US research team analyzed advertisements with political content on Facebook on the online network. Facebook cut the project’s access to user data last week. As a result, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to be shouted at by the US regulatory authority FTC.
“We work with hundreds of groups to support research on important topics. We provide data sets and access to APIs,” said the dpa Facebook spokesman on Friday. “We want to keep working with independent researchers, but in ways that don’t put data or people’s privacy at risk.” Previously, the FTC had expressed concern that Facebook was using data protection “as a pretext to promote other goals”.