A Primer on the Meta 2020 US Election Research Studies

Prithvi Iyer is a Program Manager at Tech Policy Press. Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The US 2020 research project is a partnership between Meta researchers and external academics to explore questions related to Facebook and Instagram in the 2020 US election. The external team of academics was led by Professor Talia Jomini Stroud, founder and director of the Center for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, and Professor Joshua A. Tucker, co-director of the Center for Social Media and Politics at New York University. Professors Stroud and Tucker selected 15 additional researchers to collaborate on this endeavor.  Meta claimed that neither its researchers nor the company as a whole had the authority to restrict or tamper with the findings – irrespective of whether they are favorable or not for the company. However, Meta was closely involved in shaping the research questions, methodology, workflow, and design choices. As noted by Michael Wagner, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tasked with evaluating the rigor of the collaboration as its rapporteur, “Meta set the agenda in ways that affected the overall independence of the researchers.” Nevertheless, the studies themselves, he said, are “rigorous, carefully checked, transparent, ethical, and path-breaking,” and are thus important to understand, as they may help inform a number of policy questions related to social media and these platforms specifically. Four research papers have been published as part of this project so far, with more to follow. This post serves as a resource to…A Primer on the Meta 2020 US Election Research Studies