Facebook has banned the personal accounts of academics who researched ad transparency and the spread of misinformation on the social network. Facebook says the group violated its term of service by scraping user data without permission. But the academics say they are being silenced for exposing problems on Facebook’s platform.
The researchers were part of NYU Ad Observatory, a project created to examine the origin and spread of political ads on Facebook. As the group explained in a blog post in May, their aim is to uncover who pays for political ads and how they are being targeted. Such work has important implications for understanding the spread of disinformation on Facebook, as the company does not fact-check political ads.