Facebook announced that it would pay some users for not using the company’s apps, including Facebook and Instagram, ahead of the 2020 election in the USA in November. The tech giant plans to study the impact of social media on voting, political behavior, and attitudes before the upcoming election.
“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,” Facebook said in a blog post describing the plan.
Sometime after the announcement, the Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin shared screenshots of a survey, which ask Instagram users how much they’d need for logging off their accounts for a while, and indicate that users could be paid up to $120.
"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," Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said in a tweet replying to Elizabeth Dwoskin.
"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," reads Facebook’s announcement.
Users who would like to opt in will need to quit using Facebook or Instagram apps at the end of this month for either one or six weeks, and then some users will need to take a survey before their account is active again. The company expects 200,000 to 400,000 people to take part in the research.
The study will be done by independent researchers and data scientists with background in elections, social media, and democracy. The research will end in December. However, its results will not be published until at least the middle of 2021.
This news comes a week after the Silicon Valley giant announced that it would restrict new political ads the week before the election as well as remove content that spreads misinformation related to voting and COVID-19.