Facebook launch election study
Facebook Spending Almost $50 Million On An Election Impact Study
Facebook has launched a study on social media impact on elections and democracy. The company has lined up millions of dollars in payments to the study participants.
The Facebook election impact study will involve asking people to complete a survey or deactivate their Facebook or Instagram accounts for a length of time in the lead up to the November US elections.
The company expects to enroll 200,000 – 400,000 people in the study. It will pay those taking part in the study as much as $120 each. If Facebook enrolls the maximum number of participants, the compensation would cost $48 million. That is a small drop in the bucket for a company that hauled $18.7 billion in revenue and $5.2 billion in profit in the three months through June 2020 alone. At the end of June, Facebook was sitting in a $58.2 billion cash reserve.
How to get paid for the Facebook election study
The Facebook election impact study is open to US residents. However, the company will select study participants so the sample can reflect both the diversification of the US population of the user base of Facebook and Instagram.
Those selected to take part in the study are seeing a notice on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Deactivating of accounts is expected to begin at the end of this month (September). Participants may be required to deactivate their accounts for either one or six weeks and commit not to use Facebook and Instagram during that period.
Foreign election meddling
Facebook, Google, and Twitter came under fire after the 2016 election over misinformation on their platforms. Specifically, the companies faced criticism for allowing foreign agents to target American voters with political propaganda to influence the presidential election outcome. Donald Trump won the 2016 election despite most opinion polls showing that Hillary Clinton was leading the race. Most current polls also show Joe Biden leading Trump for the 2020 presidential election.
In a show of regret for serving foreign political propaganda content, Twitter decided to discount $1.9 million in revenue it made from Russian entities blamed for meddling in the 2016 US presidential election. It also decided to ban political ads on its platform.
Facebook To Halt Political Ad Sales Ahead Of Election Day
Facebook has tapped independent researchers to help it study the impact of social media on the 2020 election. The company turned to experts in democracy, election, and social media to run the study. The researchers will neither answer to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg nor draw their pay from Facebook.
As well as studying its impact on democracy, Facebook will stop selling political ads in the weeks to the November election as a measure to contain political misinformation. Last year, the company estimated that political ads would contribute about 0.5% of its total revenue in 2020. At Facebook’s projected 2020 revenue of $80 billion, which implies about $400 million in political ad sales.