Facebook Takes Down Data And Thousands Of Posts, Obscuring Reach Of Russian Disinformation

Social media analyst Jonathan Albright got a call from Facebook the day after he published research last week showing that the reach of the Russian disinformation campaign was almost certainly larger than the company had disclosed. While the company had said 10 million people read Russian-bought ads, Albright had data suggesting that the audience was at least double that - and maybe much more - if ordinary free Facebook posts were measured as well.

Albright welcomed the chat with three company officials. But he was not pleased to discover that they had done more than talk about their concerns regarding his research. They also had scrubbed from the Internet nearly everything - thousands of Facebook posts and the related data - that had made the work possible.

Never again would he or any other researcher be able to run the kind of analysis he had done just days earlier.

"This is public interest data," Albright said Wednesday, expressing frustration that such a rich trove of information had disappeared - or at least moved somewhere the public can't see it. "This data allowed us to at least reconstruct some of the pieces of the puzzle. Not everything, but it allowed us to make sense of some of this thing."

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Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/bluesky/technology/ct-facebook-russia-posts-20171012-story.html