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Facebook gave incomplete data to researchers that may affect their work and studies. The data included information of only half of its users in the United States.  

The researchers have been relying on the data Facebook provides them, and since the revelation, the researchers have lost years' worth of work.

Facebook Provided Incomplete Information

According to The New York Times, the social media giant has been giving researchers access to its data over the past couple of years to track the spread of misinformation on the platform.

The company promised researchers transparency and full access to all user interaction. Still, the data that it had provided is said to only include interactions for about half of its users in the United States.

Also, most of the users whose interactions were recorded are the ones who engage with political posts enough to make the researchers' conclusions clear.

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Facebook sent an email to the researchers and apologized for the inconvenience that the flaw have caused.

The social media giant also told the researchers that it is now fixing the problem but that it could take weeks because of the high volume of data that it has to process.

Facebook told the researchers that the data they got for users outside the United States is not inaccurate.

Mavis Jones, Facebook's spokesperson, said that the data inaccuracy is just a technical error and that the company is now working on it and will resolve it soon.

Fabio Giglietto from the University of Urbino was the first one who discovered Facebook's inaccuracy.

Giglietto compared the data given to the researchers and the one that Facebook published publicly in August. He found out that the results did not match.

Other researchers raised concerns after the report was published. A researcher from the University of North Carolina, Alice Marwick, told Engadget that they could not verify the results. This is because they had no access to the data that the social media giant used.

Facebook held a call with researchers on Sept. 10 to apologize for the flaw. One of the researchers, Megan Squire, told The New York Times that there were 47 people on that call and every single project is currently at risk. Some are even destroyed due to inaccuracy.

Some researchers even used their tools for their study, but Facebook has discontinued their access.

In August, the social media giant disabled the accounts linked with the NYU Ad Observatory project. The team used a browser extension in order to collect information on the platform. However, the social network stated that it was an unauthorized scraping, according to The Verge.

At the time, the project's lead researcher, Laura Edelson, said that Facebook is now silencing the team because its work usually calls attention to issues on the platform.

Edelson added that if this issue shows anything, the social media company should not have the power to control who is allowed to study its data.

Contents Most Viewed

In August, Facebook revealed the contents that are most viewed by Americans. However, due to the inaccuracy of the data, there is a possibility that the released is contains inaccurate reports.

The list includes a short video clip from 5-Minute Crafts, a post from President Joe Biden, and a thread about whether you can put sugar on spaghetti or not.

Facebook also admitted that it did make changes on the report because it wanted to "save face."

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Written by Sophie Webster

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