Shutting Down Research

Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want serious research into his advertising targeting to be done.

Facebook is demanding that a New York University research project cease collecting data about its political-ad-targeting practices….
The dispute involves the NYU Ad Observatory, a project launched last month by the university’s engineering school that has recruited more than 6,500 volunteers to use a specially designed browser extension to collect data about the political ads Facebook shows them.

In particular,

Scraping tools, no matter how well-intentioned, are not a permissible means of collecting information from us….

Facebook says (Zuckerberg says; it’s his company, and he retains controlling interest) that it already maintains an advertisement database that contains information such as who paid for an ad, when it ran and the geographic location of people who saw it, but the company does not maintain—in that database—data concerning its targeting methods. NYU wants those targeting data, too, including data on what political ads ran in which state and political race, what ads are targeted to what audiences, and how those ads are funded.

Zuckerberg doesn’t want those usages and techniques exposed.

His bottom line: “Don’t you dare scrape the data we scrape from our users and tell the world what the data are that we scrape, how much of it we scrape, how we use it, how we charge others for the sale or use of those data.”

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