Facebook forms research commission for gauging impact on elections in India and others

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After a month-long debate and admission by Facebook over compromising users’ data, the Mark Zuckerberg led company has finally comes up with the formation of a commission, which is aimed at improving policies and its role in the electoral process.

On Monday, Zuckerberg announced the launch of an independent election research commission which will solicit research on the effects of social media on elections and democracy.

Mired by a tirade of controversies over data protection, the social media giant leader has clarified that “The goal is both to get the ideas of leading academics on how to address these issues as well as to hold us accountable for making sure we protect the integrity of these elections on Facebook.”

Acamedics will have access to Facebook resources for evaluating unbiased conclusions about its role in elections, including how the social media platform is handling the risks involved in the process.

The commission will share its work publicly, and Facebook will not have any right to review or approve their research findings prior to publication, claims the company’s blogpost.

Instead of evaluating lacunas in past, the commission will focus on upcoming elections in Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms.

The blogpost further added that the proposed commission will be funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Facebook-Cambridge Analytica and India connection

Since India is scheduled to elect a new central government next year, Facebook has been under the scanner for manipulating voters’ mindset through vested propaganda. Indian ruling alliance NDA, as well as opposition Indian National Congress, are facing alleged connections with Cambridge Analytica.

Meanwhile, both political parties deny to have been leveraging the London-based political consulting firm and engaging in mud sliding to each other.

Recently, the government has sent a show-cause notice directly to Zuckerberg asking whether the personal data of Indian voters and users have been compromised by Cambridge Analytica. Of late, Facebook has been facing flaks for alleged data collection of over 87 million users worldwide by Cambridge Analytica on the behest of Facebook.

The data was allegedly used to influence the voters’ psychology and maneuvering public opinion towards the Republican Party (Donald Trump). Following the breach, Facebook apologised and experienced public outcry and later called the way that Cambridge Analytica collected the ‘inappropriate data’.

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