Would you agree to deactivate your Facebook or Instagram account for one week or six weeks if you were paid to do so? According to the New York Post
, Facebook is willing to pay as much as $120 to selected subscribers if they shut down their Facebook or Instagram accounts by the end of September. There is actually a legitimate reason why Facebook is willing to pay users to shutter their account; it is examining the role that social media plays in U.S. elections. Facebook says that it expects 200,000 to 400,000 people to participate.
You can get paid to deactivate your Facebook or Instagram account at the end of this month
Last week, Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois tweeted, "Anyone who chooses to opt-in – whether it’s completing surveys or deactivating FB or IG for a period of time – will be compensated. This is fairly standard for this type of academic research." In explaining who will be allowed to take place in the program, Facebook says, "Representative, scientific samples of people in the US will be selected and invited to participate in the study. Some potential participants will see a notice in Facebook or Instagram inviting them to take part in the study. Study samples will be designed to ensure that participants mirror the diversity of the US adult population, as well as users of Facebook and Instagram."
Facebook and Instagram users can get paid to deactivate their accounts before the end of September
Facebook explains its plan by saying, "To continue to amplify all that is good for democracy on social media, and mitigate against that which is not, we need more objective, dispassionate, empirically grounded research." Independent data scientists will handle the research and the results of the study won't be released until next year.
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that he will ban new political ads starting the week before election day in order to stop the spread of misinformation. Washington Post
reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin shared screenshots on Twitter showing that some Facebook and Instagram users have received a survey from Facebook asking them how much they would have to be paid to deactivate their accounts. The better understand the impact of Facebook and Instagram on key political attitudes and behaviors during the US 2020 elections."
Unfortunately, it appears that by the time Facebook releases the results of the new study, the 2020 election will be history. Still, Facebook could discover some methods that will keep foreign countries from using the platform to influence how Americans vote in future elections. In a blog post disseminated a little more than a week ago, the company said, "This research is part of Facebook’s wider effort to protect elections. As a company, we’ve looked hard at what went wrong with Russian interference in 2016 and made some big changes. There are now three times as many people working on safety and security issues, more than 35,000 in total, and we work closely with government and law enforcement. Facebook has helped fight interference in more than 200 elections since 2017 and reduced fake news on its platform by more than 50%, according to independent studies.
This research won’t settle every debate about social media and democracy, but we hope and expect the researchers will advance society’s understanding of the intersection of technology and democracy. The answers will help us all to shape the rules of the road for the internet – for the benefit of our democracy, and society as a whole. That’s why today we are announcing a new research partnership to better understand the impact of Facebook and Instagram on key political attitudes and behaviors during the US 2020 elections, building on the initiative we launched in 2018. 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."