Facebook announced this week that it’s opening up access to CrowdTangle, the content discovery and social analytics tool it acquired in 2016, to academics and researchers.
According to Facebook, the research community is playing an important role in helping tackle misinformation and the abuse of social media platforms, and wants to support research as much as possible, on “what’s happening on both Facebook and Instagram.” As such the company announced this week that it is opening up access to CrowdTangle to academics and the research community.
CrowdTangle, a content discovery and social analytics tool that Facebook acquired back in November of 2016, surfaces content from over five million public social accounts and in real-time. The tool provides real-time dashboards that can be used to track accounts, keywords, links and access to historical data, with which users can create custom reports and track topics across platforms. Until now, Facebook provided access to the tool to newsrooms and media publishers who used it primarily to “understand what is happening” on its platform.
Now, Facebook wants to make it available to academics and researchers to “help continue to provide more transparency into how information is being spread on social media.” For the last few months, Facebook has been working closely “with some early academic and research partners across the world,” like The University of California, Berkeley which is using CrowdTangle to “investigate the spread of misinformation in Myanmar and other countries,” or Duke University which is “measuring the impact of Facebook groups in North Carolina during recent emergencies.”
Other partners include the University of Münster which is “tracking misinformation and elections integrity,” or the Atlantic Council which used the tool to “track claims of electronic voting fraud circulating in Brazil.” Finally, Pew Research has also used CrowdTangle, to track and research media trends, and the Institute for Strategic Dialogue used it to “track where misinformation came from, as well as identifying peaks in media coverage during the recent Swedish and German local elections.”
As Chloe Colliver, research manager and digital analysis unit lead at ISD explains, the tool also recently helped the Institute to “analyze how disinformation and extremist content is promoted and engaged with on public Facebook pages and groups” helping to “build a more comprehensive picture of how disinformation and extremist campaigns travel across the ecosystem of platforms and websites used by groups spreading disinformation and extremist content, and to understand where different platforms fit into their online strategies.”
In the next few months there will be more details on the criteria that need to be fulfilled to gain access, so if you’re a researcher or academic interested in the tool, stay tuned!
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