Facebook has stopped its research project on the Instagram algorithm
Facebook has stopped its research project on the Instagram algorithm

AlgorithmWatch researchers said they were forced to abandon their research project to monitor the Instagram algorithm after they were threatened by a Facebook law.

In an article published on Friday morning, the Berlin project was publicly discussed on the grounds of the recent ban on NYU's Ad Monitor platform.

Post wrote: There may be more instances of bullying that we are not aware of. We hope that more organizations will report on their experiences as the process progresses.

Introduced in March 2020, AlgorithmWatch offers a browser extension that allows users to collect data from Instagram feeds to better understand how the platform prioritizes photos and videos.

The project regularly publishes results indicating that the algorithm encourages rendering of images of naked objects, with images with faces scoring higher than textual screenshots.

The company opposes this approach. However, no action was taken against AlgorithmWatch in the first year of the project.

Researchers said in May that Facebook had asked to meet the project manager for allegedly violating the platform's terms of service.

Another objection is that the project violates the GDPR. In fact, it collects data from users who do not agree to participate.

The researcher said: We collected data on the content that the platform provides to volunteers who have installed the extension. In other words, users of the extension can access and share their feeds with us for research purposes.

However, the researchers decided to stop the project, believing that if it continued, they would expect legal action from the company.

Facebook has abandoned the Instagram algorithm project

A company representative confirmed the meeting. However, he denied threatening to continue the project, saying the company was willing to find privacy ways to continue its research.

"We are concerned about their practices, which is why we have contacted them several times so they can meet our conditions and continue their research, as we often do with other research groups when we encounter similar issues." To work together, but in a way that does not jeopardize people's data or privacy.

The social nature of the Facebook platform makes it difficult to isolate a single user. Even if users choose to do so, their feed will contain other people's content and they may not agree to participate in the search.

The company has been particularly sensitive to research projects since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which used academic research data for commercial and political manipulation.

The algorithms for running newsfeeds on Facebook and Instagram are powerful, but little is known about them, and company policies make it difficult to study them objectively.

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