On Tuesday, Meta Platforms, Inc., announced “they are launching new transparency tools called Meta Content Library and API that will assist researchers and provide them huge access to data.”
The reason behind this move was that social media companies are under pressure from the public and regulators to be more open about their products and recommended algorithms, operations and the effects they have on users and society. Moreover, Academic researchers also want to get access to data from different social media platforms, including Meta.
A few months ago, Meta released the Beta version and gave some researchers early access to these tools. The researcher group collaborates with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social research at the University of Michigan. The purpose of this collaboration was to let the researcher study the data in a safe place. After getting the positive feedback on these tools, Meta is ready to share these tools to the vast number of researchers.
The Meta content Library and API tools are improving itself. Now they will give researchers access to the huge data on Instagram and Facebook. Meta states that it will help them to meet the requirements about data sharing by letting the researchers access the real time access to the public content from Pages, Posts, Groups and Events on Facebook. They can also check out the business account, creator’s content in real time. And this data includes the number of reactions, shares, comments and views on the posts.
Although these contents are available to everyone publicly. But Library and API tools are especially designed for the researchers to let them access the data more easily.
By using these tools, researchers are able to explore more content by using the graphical user interface. Researchers can also view and sort the content by using the pictures and buttons. The API also helps to transfer the data into other third party systems automatically.
To protect the user privacy, Meta further says that this data will be accessible via Virtual Clean Room and cannot be downloadable. But the most important thing is that this tool is not available for anyone unless he or she is a researcher from qualified institutions who is pursuing scientific and public interest research topics.
To get this access, they need to apply through third party partners who will keep the data safe for research purposes. The first name of the third party partner is ICPSR, which will provide the secure sandbox known as Social Media Archive Virtual Data Enclave that will assist researchers to safely dig the API data safely.
A Meta Product manager, Kiran Jagadeesh also said that there is a major difference between the data that is available publicly versus getting the huge volume of data at once who uses the program.
Meta announced that sharing of these tools to the researchers in the early stages of development is to enhance and broaden the availability to the global level. They further plan to gather the feedback and make continuous improvements to get the better feedback and user experience.