A new Facebook commission examining social media’s influence on the democratic process has appointed a Manchester academic.
Rachel Gibson, a University of Manchester professor of political science, will provide independent, credible research about its role in elections.
Facebook’s new commission follows the Brexit result, Donald Trump’s presidential victory and other referenda and polls, which have been heavily influenced by the use of social media.
Facebook also received criticism for not acting after data breaches led to personal information from more than 50 million users being used by Cambridge Analytica to target voters.
Its data will now be made more available to the research community to investigate.
“This is a very exciting initiative that will hopefully unlock Facebook data for academic analysis,” said Gibson.
“This will allow us to gain a much deeper and richer insight into how social media is shaping and possibly transforming democracies, and particularly elections.
“I hope the outcome will be a commitment by Facebook to provide its data – subject to privacy restrictions – for open analysis by the research community, so that we can better understand its effects on democracy”
She will be a member of its Civic Engagement committee, the others will cover Political Advertising, Election Integrity, Polarisation and Disinformation.
The commission is expected to report on its findings next year.