Extreme „backlash”: Meta removes key tool against misinformation | Technology | Target | Social Networks | Facebook | USA | | Technology

The CrowdTangle tool is considered critical for monitoring misinformation social networking sites, will be removed by the American team Meta In the coming months, researchers will describe a movement „Retreat” Elections in many countries in one year.

The company that owns Facebook and Instagram announced that CrowdTangle will no longer be available on August 14, less than three months before the US election. The tech giant plans to replace it with a new tool that, researchers warn, lacks the same functionality and won't be widely available to press companies.

Over the years, CrowdTangle has been an important platform for journalists and researchers, allowing them to follow the proliferation of conspiracy theories and hate speech in real time on influential networks owned by Meta, including Facebook and Instagram.

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The withdrawal of the surveillance tool is a severe blow in a year when dozens of countries are holding elections, an ideal time for a proliferation of false narratives.

„In a year when almost half of the world's population will be called to vote, limiting access to CrowdTangle will severely limit independent monitoring of these harms.”Melanie Smith, director of research at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), told AFP.

„This represents an alarming setback to the transparency of social media platforms” he added.

Meta will replace CrowdTangle with Content Library, a technology still in development.

Some voices in the tech industry, including former CrowdTangle boss Brandon Silverman, say it's not a viable alternative, especially when faced with an election where falsehoods created with artificial intelligence can proliferate.

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Create a goal „Completely New Technology” To protect the integrity of the elections, Silverman asked AFP „Transparency and Openness”.

„direct threat”

Launched by Meta in 2016, CrowdTangle has helped researchers uncover issues such as foreign interference, online harassment and incitement to violence.

In the 2020 election, Meta gave US election officials a platform to help fight misinformation and efforts to prevent people from voting.

Panels were made available to the public to monitor what the major candidates were posting on their official networks.

Considering the risk of losing these functions, the Mozilla Foundation asked Meta in an open letter to maintain CrowdTangle at least until January 2025.

„Abandoning CrowdTangle undermines a fundamental principle of transparency if the content library is missing many of its core features” The letter, signed by dozens of researchers and watchdog groups in the technology area, says.

Among the features missing from the new tool is the great search flexibility that CrowdTangle offers, its return „direct threat” For electoral integrity, the letter adds.

Meta said through his spokesman Andy Stone what the letter alleges „wrong” And there will be a content library „More complete data than CrowdTangle” and available to academics and non-profit organizations specializing in electoral integrity.

„very concerned”

The new meta tool is not available to commercial media. In recent years, journalists have used CrowdTangle to investigate topics such as health crises, human rights abuses, and natural disasters.

Reporters used it to pay for articles that didn't leave Meta in a good light about the difficulty of rating online content and the abundance of pirated apps on its video game platform.

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CrowdTangle is an important source of assisted data “Hold Meta accountable for the application of its principles”, Tim Harper, a researcher at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told AFP.

The content library will be available to those organizations — including AFP — as part of the Meta program to verify online content by third parties.

But other researchers and nonprofits must apply for access or choose expensive alternatives.

„It is not entirely clear whether independent researchers who are already concerned about the loss of CrowdTangle features will gain access” said Carlos Hernández-Echevarría, coordinator of public policies at the Spanish portal Maltida.

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