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AlgorithmWatch suspends investigation into Instagram algorithm after Facebook threats – IT Pro – News

German nonprofit AlgorithmWatch says it has had to stop investigating the Instagram algorithm. Facebook claims that data scraping violates its terms of use and threatens legal action.

AlgorithmWatch has collected Instagram news feed data for approximately 1,500 volunteers using a scraping plugin. According to the non-profit organization Facebook initially called this data set only “flawed”. Later, during a meeting with researchers, the social medium claimed that the search violated the terms of use of Facebook and Instagram.

Section 3.2.3 of Facebook Terms of Use It states, “You may not access or collect data from our Products by automated means.” AlgorithmWatch states that it only collected data from volunteers who set their own feed through the plugin. Despite this situation, the organization still chose to discontinue the research process; In its own words, an organization as small as AlgorithmWatch cannot risk a lawsuit against a “trillion dollar company.”

Earlier this month, academics from New York University Banned for similar reasons. Also in this case, Facebook invoked its terms of use and the ban on data scraping. To our knowledge, neither researchers nor AlgorithmWatch volunteers have been banned or directly sanctioned by Facebook. The open source plugin will be designed in such a way that the identity of the volunteers involved cannot be traced.

Since 2020, AlgorithmWatch has been researching the algorithm by which Instagram determines what users see in their feed in collaboration with NOS, de Groene Amsterdammer, Pointer and Süddeutsche Zeitung, among others. The organization was able to conclude, among other things, that images with bare skin were preferred by the algorithm. Also, photos of faces are more likely to end up in the news feed than photos with text.

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