A Dream Come True: Facebook Will Pay Some Users to Deactivate Their Accounts Ahead of the Election
Good news for anyone who’s been wanting to get off Facebook but has been having trouble cutting that cord: the social media platform will be paying some users to deactivate their Facebook and Instagram accounts ahead of the November election.
Washington Post correspondent Elizabeth Dwoskin posted a screenshot on Twitter of a survey asking Facebook users how much they’d need to be paid to deactivate for either one week or six weeks.
So Facebook is now going to pay people to deactivate their IG and FB accounts before Election Day. It’s part of the research experiment announced Monday but WOW. This notice went out this week. pic.twitter.com/tV7DAw8F5I
— Elizabeth Dwoskin (@lizzadwoskin) September 3, 2020
Facebook’s strategic response communications director, Liz Bourgeois, responded to that tweet with a link to more information about the research initiative, which is looking to explore the impact social media has on democracy.
Anyone who chooses to opt in – whether it’s completing surveys or deactivating FB or IG for a period of time – will be compensated. This is fairly standard for this type of academic research. More here: https://t.co/uw4B8XhsYY
— Liz Bourgeois (@Liz_Shepherd) September 3, 2020
Here’s the basic breakdown of what participants would be doing:
For people who have explicitly opted in to the study, we plan to combine multiple research methods, including surveys and behavioral data analysis, along with targeted changes to some participants’ experiences with Facebook and Instagram. For example, participants could see more or fewer ads in specific categories such as retail, entertainment or politics, or see more or fewer posts in News Feed related to specific topics. Other participants may be asked to stop using Facebook or Instagram for a period of time. A subset of participants may be asked to install an app on their devices – with their permission – that will log other digital media that they consume. This will allow researchers to understand more comprehensively the information environment that people experience.
It’s common knowledge by now that disinformation shared on Facebook had a massive impact on the 2016 presidential election. Facebook can’t take all of the blame, but the site is certainly a major factor in our growing, now-chasmic political divide. It was and still is wholly unprepared to handle what a gigantic role it plays in our political landscape. Facebook is still struggling to figure out how to host political content, and I mean really struggling. Blatant lies, including those coming from Trump’s own account, go un-fact-checked. Fringe radical groups are allowed to use the site to call for violence, which Mark Zuckerberg dismisses as a mere “operational mistake.” It’s a mess.
This new initiative is looking at how users interact with political material on the platform, and it will be interesting to see what they find, but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking the most appealing part of the study is that control group that gets to opt out of the process entirely.
(via NY Post, image: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
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