Facebook demands NYU researchers stop using ad-targeting data tool

Academics, journalists and lawyers are rallying behind the researchers

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Facebook is demanding that NYU researchers stop collecting data about the social media platform’s ad-targeting practices.

The researchers are using a tool to understand how the social media platform has been used as a conduit for misinformation and manipulation. They’re also attempting to understand who is being micro-targeted by political ads.

Academics, journalists and lawyers are rallying behind the researchers, after a Facebook executive demanded that they stop using the tool, which is being used by 6,500 volunteers across the United States.

The tool lets the researchers see which ads the volunteers are shown. Facebook is claiming that the tool violates Facebook rules prohibiting bulk collection of data.

The letter sent to the researchers notes that “scraping tools, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a permissible means of collecting information from us.”

The social media wants the researchers to delete all of the data it has collected from it. Facebook is also threatening “additional enforcement action,” if the researchers don’t stop using the tool.

A spokesperson for the social media giant told The Associated Press that Facebook “informed NYU months ago that moving forward with a project to scrape people’s Facebook information would violate our terms.”

Facebook recently stated that it would stop taking political ads a week before the election and would label misleading posts, in an attempt to prevent election interference.

Source: The Associated Press