Mozilla and The Markup, a non-profit organization, have teamed up to highlight methods for collecting and tracking data on Facebook.
Both are currently recruiting for Facebook Pixel Hunt Research. They are asking users to download Rally (Mozilla’s privacy platform data sharing and sharing), which launched last year. Users can also share their browsing behavior.
Ted Han of Mozilla, chief product of Rally at Mozilla, says Rally is a tool that can allow communities to come together and provide insight into the most obscure parts of the web. This has a profound impact on the lives of individuals as well as society.
“This is a rare opportunity to lift the veil on Facebook’s tracking and data collection practices outside of Facebook’s platforms.”
The project aims to build on a previous collaboration with Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy on news and misinformation about politics and COVID-19 via online services, as well as another ongoing study with the Stanford University Graduate School of Business on news consumption and the impact of advertising.
Han says, “The Internet and the world cannot wait for platforms to do the right thing. Especially when so much depends on it.”
Previous projects that had similar goals have failed. For example, Facebook has banned the accounts of researchers at New York University (NYU), who have been studying precision-targeted political ads through the Ad Observer. This has been condemned by the US Federal Trade Commission.
The company also shut down CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring tool that provided access to trending topics, public accounts, communities, and viral posts on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, and blocked ProPublica Ad Transparency tools.
It also appears to have modified its website code to prevent automated collection of data from user-volunteering news feed posts, which significantly hampers the work of researchers such as The Markup’s Citizen Browser project.
We’ll see if the Pixel Hunt project performs better.