Facebook must not block research into disinformation

The NetGain Partnership, a philanthropic organization supported by the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, Omidyar Group, Open Society Foundations, and the Wallace Global Fund responded in an open letter to Facebook's shuttering of the accounts of NYU Tandon researchers Damon McCoy and Laura Edelson.

Noting that the investigators' Ad Observer browser extension has done pathbreaking work tracking political ads and the spread of misinformation on the social media platform, the partnership asserts that those, including journalists, who conduct research that is ethical, protects privacy, and is in the public interest "Should not face suspension from Facebook or any other platform.” The group enjoined Facebook to "Reinstate the accounts of the NYU researchers as a matter of urgency.”

Along with this, the group expressed their solidarity with the Cybersecurity for Democracy:

“As funders who collectively invest in the health of a vibrant internet that serves the public interest, we stand in support of Cybersecurity for Democracy and the community of independent researchers who study the impacts of social media in our democracy. Independent research efforts have been essential to understanding how disinformation spreads on digital platforms. This attempt to impede the efforts of independent researchers is a call for us all to protect that vision, for the good of our communities, and the good of our democracy."