WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Mark Warner said on Wednesday that Facebook’s move to deactivate the accounts of a group of New York University researchers studying political ads on its platform is “deeply troubling.”
Facebook said on Tuesday it had cut the personal accounts and access of NYU researchers, who were studying political ads on the platform, because of concerns about the privacy of other users.
Warner, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Select Committee, said the move was a setback.
“This latest move by Facebook to cut the transparency efforts of an outside group – efforts that have repeatedly facilitated disclosures of advertisements that violate Facebook’s terms of service, advertisements of predatory financial scams and scams, and political advertisements that have been improperly omitted from the library of Facebook’s obscure ads – it’s deeply troubling,” the senator said.
Warner added that Congress must act to address fraud and misconduct in online advertising.
Facebook defended the action on Wednesday. “We repeatedly explained our privacy concerns to NYU, but their researchers decided not to address them and instead resumed collecting data and advertising from people on our platform,” said a spokesperson.
The NYU Ad Observatory project, which received a cease and desist letter from Facebook last year, asks people to download a browser extension that collects information about how political ads are displayed on the platform.
(By Diane Bartz and Elizabeth Culliford)
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