[1909.01476] How much research shared on Facebook is hidden from public view? A comparison of public and private online activity around PLOS ONE papers

Abstract:  Despite its undisputed position as the biggest social media platform, Facebook has never entered the main stage of altmetrics research. In this study, we argue that the lack of attention by altmetrics researchers is not due to a lack of relevant activity on the platform, but because of the challenges in collecting Facebook data have been limited to activity that takes place in a select group of public pages and groups. We present a new method of collecting shares, reactions, and comments across the platform-including private timelines-and use it to gather data for all articles published between 2015 to 2017 in the journal PLOS ONE. We compare the gathered data with altmetrics collected and aggregated by Altmetric. The results show that 58.7% of papers shared on the platform happen outside of public view and that, when collecting all shares, the volume of activity approximates patterns of engagement previously only observed for Twitter. Both results suggest that the role and impact of Facebook as a medium for science and scholarly communication has been underestimated. Furthermore, they emphasise the importance of openness and transparency around the collection and aggregation of altmetrics.

 

Update from Gary King and Nate Persily | SOCIAL SCIENCE ONE

When we created Social Science One to facilitate access for the world’s social scientific community to social media data, we promised to release periodic updates noting our progress and describing the challenges we confront….

Of course, we recognized that working with Facebook would invite heavy scrutiny, given the maelstrom of controversy on many fronts that has engulfed the company since the 2016 election, not the least of it for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which was an academic scandal as well.  We hoped, however, that rigorous and careful scientific analysis of Facebook data, without funding from or pre-publication approval by Facebook, would provide valuable independent assessment of the conventional wisdom as to the platform’s varied effects on elections and democracy around the world.  We also hoped that we could prove the model we had developed for industry-academic partnerships and show how company data could be made accessible in a legal, trusted, privacy-preserving, and secure fashion that benefits everyone. The potential benefits for the social sciences, and for society at large, are so large that getting this right is critical….

We are close to being able to announce the first set of research teams approved for financial awards and data access….

[W]e plan to release access to data for approved researchers in two stages instead of all at once….

We continue to believe in the critical importance of opening up access for researchers to the most important information private companies possess on the nature of modern society and social interaction.  …”

Should OATP create a Facebook feed?

“The Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) publishes a daily feed of news about open access (OA). The feed is available in eight file formats to suit people with different needs or preferences: Atom, Email, Google+, HTML, JSON, Pushbullet, RSS, and Twitter.

https://cyber.harvard.edu/hoap/OATP_feeds#Versions_of_the_primary_project_feed

But OATP doesn’t have a Facebook feed. This is deliberate. I think Facebook deceives and exploits its users. I don’t want to encourage its use. On the other hand, I want OATP to reach everyone who cares about OA. It might miss a lot of OA people by refusing to create a Facebook feed….

Should OATP create a Facebook feed? Would any of you subscribe? Would any of you prefer it to the formats we already offer? ….”

(2) Peter Suber – Google+ – Elsevier, NewsCorp, Facebook, and Yahoo join ignorant…

Elsevier, NewsCorp, Facebook, and Yahoo are some of the major players in NetChoice, an industry group “promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.” …NetChoice has a watch list for bad legislation that it calls iAWFUL (Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws). The latest version of iAWFUL includes the White House OA directive plus the state-level OA bills in California, Illinois, and North Dakota. (Yes, there was a bill in ND, and no, NetChoice doesn’t seem to know about the OA bill in NY.) …Insofar as NetChoice has an argument for opposing these OA initiatives, it’s a crude bolus of false assertions and assumptions. I haven’t seen this kind of motivated distortion since the days of PRISM and the Research Works Act….” [There follows five quotations from NetChoice and Suber’s rebuttal or correction.]