Facebook Disabled the accounts of several researchers from the University of New York on Tuesday, effectively ending a research project that examines how political ads are directed to specific audiences on the popular social networks platform.

The NYU AD Observatory Project was launched in September, two months before the Presidential Election 2020, the deadline for what was full of disinformation campaigns. Researchers asked more than 6,500 volunteers who install a browser add-on that allows the team to see which political ads are shown to each volunteer on Facebook. The objective of the project was to better understand how the political advertisers of Facebook go to different hearings, but without access to the platform, the project has been paused by force.

"is embarrassing that Facebook is trying to silence independent research in public interest," said Laura Edelson, a Ph.D. Candidate in computer science in NYU and principal investigator in the project. "We will not allow Facebo in Facebank to silence or our work."

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    Facebook claims The methods of researchers violate their terms of service, which prohibits web scraping of the user's private information.

    "We take these actions to stop unauthorized scraping and protect the privacy of people online with our Privacy Program" Required by Federal Trade Laws, Mike Clark, Director of Product Management on Facebook He said in a statement on Tuesday. "Researchers collected data when creating a browser extension that was scheduled to evade our detection systems and scrape data such as usernames, ads, links to user profiles and 'Why am I seeing information about this ad?' Some of which is not public seen on Facebook. "

    Experts in online privacy say that the justification of Facebook to prohibit researchers is an inconvenient excuse. They say that the user's private information that Clark refers to the declaration of it belongs to advertisers, not individual users. The supplement of the navigator used by the NYU volunteers analyzes the accounts of the political advertisers, which includes their names and profile images, protocol, a technology news site, he explained.

    Edelson took Facebook characterization of the Facebook characterization of the project data collection methods.

    "We do not agree with labeling what the advertisement observer tool does" scraping, "he said." We independently collected anonymous information with the consent of users. Independent collection methods are vital if we can audit the Facebook platform, which, as creek researchers, is our job doing it. " Googleg.cmd.push (Function () Googleg.Display (" DFP-Ad- Article_in_Article "););

    Samuel Levine, Director of Action of the Consumer Protection Office in the Federal Trade Commission, hit Facebook actions in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, LamBasting to the company for use of privacy concerns such as a Sheild.

    "The FTC is committed to protecting the privacy of people and efforts to protect advertising practices directed from the scrutiny of the mission mission," he wrote Levine. "The FTC supports the efforts to shed light on opaque business practices, especially about advertising based on surveillance. While it is not our role to resolve individual disputes between Facebook and third parties, we hope that the company does not invoke privacy, much less the FTC consent order: as a pretext to advance other objectives. "

    Ashkan Soltani, the Old Chief Technologist of the FTC, does not believe that NYU has surpassed. Volunteers of the research donate information about the advertisements that see the project through the supplement of the browser they have installed, explained on Twitter.

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