Recent revelations about the abuse of Facebook data and spread of disinformation make clear that social media can have negative ramifications for society. Today the SSRC begins an extraordinary Social Data Initiative at the frontiers of digital culture to examine the problem, explore questions about the responsible use of social network data, and generate insights to inform solutions.
With the potential to usher in a new paradigm for research collaboration between industry and the academy, Facebook will make data available for the first time to social science researchers via an independent, transparent, peer-review process.
The SSRC’s role will include helping to form a steering committee of independent scholars to develop a research agenda about social media’s impact on society, beginning with elections, and stewardship of both the independent application and selection processes, as well as the peer-review process. Any proposal submitted through this process must first have been reviewed by a University Institutional Review Board (IRB), federally approved IRB, or international equivalent.
Significantly, Facebook will provide no financial support to the project and will have no input on the research produced from the initiative.