Facebook is now going to pay people to deactivate their Instagram and Facebook accounts, in a new study to track online political behaviour .
The tech company is planning to pay users to stay off the social platform during the 2020 US presidential elections,it’s an effort to study its influence on political campaigns.
The company announced on Monday a research partnership with external academics, with a purpose, Facebook says, to “better understand the impact of Facebook and Instagram” on political “attitudes and behaviours” for the upcoming US elections.
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“It will examine the impact of how people interact with our products, including content shared in News Feed and across Instagram, and the role of features like content ranking systems,” Facebook said in a public statement on Monday.
It’s a u-turn from the company’s approach in the aftermath of the 2016 US election. Antonio Garcia Martinez, a former Facebook sales department employee, has been vocal about Facebook’s missteps in 2016.
Facebook’s critics extend beyond past employees. Over the last few years, Mark Zuckerberg has been questioned by the US Congress multiple times about the power the platform has to influence politics.
Facebook has also been accused of not acting quickly enough to understand growing misinformation on the platform. It’s something they’ve addressed in the lead up to their study.
“The US elections in 2016 exposed the risk of social media being abused to interfere in elections, and misinformation and political polarization clearly play out on social media platforms too,” Facebook’s public statement reads.
The study will see Facebook and Instagram pay users between $USD10 to $USD20 per week to have a staycation from their platforms. The Washington Post’s Elizabeth Dwoskin reported on Twitter the pay scale, and later received a reply from Facebook’s communication director Liz Bourgeois.
The participant numbers Facebook is anticipating to be a part of the study are between 200,000 and 400,000 users.