Accounts of New York University researchers who had been critical of Facebook, have been effectively cut off from their research into political ads and misinformation on the platform after their accounts were suspended.
The tech giant says the decision was made because of issues over “privacy protection,” but researchers Laura Edelson and Damon McCoy dispute this saying that Facebook is blatantly attempting to silence their findings.
“Facebook should not be able to cynically invoke user privacy to shut down research that puts them in an unflattering light, particularly when the ‘users’ Facebook is talking about are advertisers who have consented to making their ads public,” McCoy said in a statement.
Facebook said the decision was made because of issues the researchers posed over privacy protection — but the researchers slammed the social media platform and said the move is an attempt to silence them and other researchers who use the tool they developed to assess the spread of disinformation.
“The work our team does to make data about disinformation on Facebook transparent is vital to a healthy internet and a healthy democracy. Facebook is silencing us because our work often calls attention to problems on its platform,” Edelson said in a statement.
“Worst of all, Facebook is using user privacy, a core belief that we have always put first in our work, as a pretext for doing this. If this episode demonstrates anything it’s that Facebook should not have veto power over who is allowed to study them.”