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Find Your State

Tell Mark Zuckerberg to allow NYU's project and other projects from researchers and civil society groups that bring transparency to continue

Facebook is trying to stop public interest researchers from NYU from looking into their ad-targeting practices — researchers who’ve already exposed major failures in Facebook’s vetting and fact-checking of political ads on its platform.

Facebook, Inc. has demanded that a group of NYU academics shut down their research into how ads are microtargeted on Facebook.

Volunteers nationwide — including Common Cause members — signed up to let NYU automatically get a copy of the ads they were shown on Facebook, so researchers could analyze them.

And thanks to this public interest effort, which Common Cause proudly supports, researchers found out that some political advertisers weren’t following Facebook’s rules — and Facebook was letting it happen, with just weeks before the election.

That’s right — even while Facebook has rampant disinformation and hate on its platform (they infamously exempt politicians’ ads from any fact-checking!), the social media giant is instead going after the people who are helping voters understand who’s trying to influence their votes.

Remember: Facebook has already profited massively from attacks on our democracy — Russian disinformation ads… targeted ads to Black voters from the Trump 2016 campaign to discourage them from voting… as well as the hundreds of millions of dollars that campaigns are spending on social media.

This NYU project relies entirely on data that’s donated by volunteers and that Facebook offers to the public. And Facebook’s efforts to shut it down are just another attempt to diminish the power of its users, as well as grow the platform’s political influence at the expense of ordinary people.

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