The data scientists said figuring out how many Facebook users saw false or misleading information would be complex, perhaps taking a year a more, according to two people who participated in the meeting. But they added that by putting some new hires on the project and reassigning some existing employees to it, the company could better understand how incorrect facts about the virus spread on the platform.
The executives never approved the resources, and the team was never told why, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Now, more than a year later, Facebook has been caught in a firestorm about the very type of information that the data scientists were hoping to track…
“They need to open up the black box that is their content ranking and content amplification architecture. Take that black box and open it up for audit by independent researchers and government,” said Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit that aims to combat disinformation. “We don’t know how many Americans have been infected with misinformation.”