[Air-L] Studies on Meta and partisanship

Joly MacFie joly at punkcast.com
Thu Jul 27 13:39:01 PDT 2023

>From POLITICO's Digital Future Daily

The article does not link to the studies. Maybe someone could provide?


The studies released Thursday tried to tease out the influence of
particular factors, such as Facebook's algorithm for serving up content to
users. Two studies published in the journal Science that examined the
effects of Facebook’s algorithm and reshare feature during the fall of 2020
found that both features increased user engagement — but neither affected
people's existing political attitudes or polarization.

A separate study published in the journal Nature found that reducing users’
exposure to sources that echo their existing beliefs didn't affect their
political attitudes either.

Meta trumpeted the results in a memo circulated ahead of the studies’
release: “Despite the common assertions that social media is ‘destroying
democracy,’” the company wrote, “the evidence in these and many other
studies shows something very different.”

Social media critics — many of whom have spent years sounding the alarm
about the ways it has changed American politics — suggested the studies
were too limited, and too close to Meta itself, to be persuasive, including
Frances Haugen, the former Facebook executive who leaked internal company
files in 2021, and Jesse Lehrich, co-founder of Accountable Tech, an
advocacy group focused on information controls for social media.

A fourth study, also published in Science, found that a cluster of news
sources consumed by conservatives produced most of the misinformation
flagged by the platform’s third-party fact-checking system. (A study
co-author, Sandra González-Bailón of the University of Pennsylvania,
declined to provide a list of those sources.)

The studies were the result of a collaboration between Meta and 17 outside
researchers from universities including Northeastern, Stanford and

An independent rapporteur tasked with evaluating the collaboration vouched
for the soundness of its results, but said its framework gave Meta
influence over the ways in which outside researchers evaluated its

“Meta set the agenda in ways that affected the overall independence of the
researchers,” wrote Michael Wagner, a professor at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


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Joly MacFie  +12185659365

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