To Facebook UK Manager,
Open up your public data for research.
Why is this important?
In the last few days Facebook has denied permission to Netvizz, a research tool used by hundreds of academics to gather public Facebook data; from Norwegian political party videos, posts about the London 2012 Olympic Games, to conference comments by Asian American students.
What Facebook's action signals is a death knell for civic access to public Facebook data, for inevitably all apps akin to Netvizz will be wiped from the platform. Within the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the kaleidoscope has been shaken, and the pieces are in flux. However, given the opportunity for positive change, Facebook's choice appears to be making the platform opaquer, more unknown, more unaccountable to the public.
Once Netvizz is gone, there will be no way of gathering large amounts of public Facebook data, as Facebook offers only highly restrictive options via the platform, or its new initiatives to offer access for scholarly research are dependent on a hand-picked group of scholars who themselves define the research agenda. The social, academic and political consequences are thus dark.
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