Civics: Facebook tells academics to stop monitoring its political ads for any rule-breaking…. on privacy grounds

Kieren McCarthy:

Facebook has ordered the end to an academic monitoring project that has repeatedly exposed failures by the internet giant to clearly label political advertising on its platform.

The social media goliath informed New York University (NYU) that research by its Tandon School of Engineering’s Online Transparency Project’s Ad Observatory violates Facebook’s terms of service on bulk data collection and demanded it end the program immediately.

The project recruited 6,500 volunteers to install its AdObserver browser extension that collects data on the ads that Facebook shows them personally. It sends the information to the American university, allowing it to perform a real-time check that Facebook is living up its promise to clearly disclose not only who paid for political ads shown on the platform but also how much and when the adverts would be shown.

“We launched the Online Transparency Project two years ago to make it easier to see who was purchasing political ads on Facebook,” said co-founder Laura Edelson, of the project.