Sociologist Collaborated Facebook to Open up New Dimension under Threats of Privacy Crisis

Taiwan Institute for Governance and Communication Research (TIGCR), Taiwan Studies Center, and Election Study Center (ESC) jointly invited Professor Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law School to NCCU to deliver lecture and attend the forum. The subject of the lecture is “Can democracy survive internet?”, which is about the phenomenon of ubiquitous fake new and bots existing in election periods, and how echo chamber may affect democracy.

Professor Persily also shared with members of TIGCR about how academic circles manage to conduct researches with Facebook in the situation that the privacy policy of Facebook is tightening.

The whole day event firstly started from forum and followed by lecture. At the beginning, our chair professor, Chi Huang gave a brief introduction on the development of TIGCR. Followed by Professor Persily, he shared the plan he jointly conducted with Professor Gary King, who is from politics department of Harvard University. The plan New Model of Industry-Academic Partnerships, started from March 2018. The plan was inspired from a case that Cambridge Analytica, a company located in London, was disclosed that it illegally collected users’ profile on Facebook to manipulate the outcome of 2016 U.S.A. president election. From then on, Facebook closed Application Programming Interface (API), and protected users’ profile to be accessed easily.

Professor Persily delivered lecture and discussed with members of TIGCR

(Photo credit: TIGCR)

“New Model of Industry-Academic Partnership”, was conducted by Professor Persily and King to complete the Integrity of academic research, and at the same time, accessed data from Facebook confidentially. With this partnership, scholars, as trusted third party, could collaborate with private company, which hold users’ profile on Facebook to conduct researches in certain fields. In the discussion, Persily introduced us with four databases, which is now available for apply for. Among these, there are some considered to be the most secure, from databases capable for collecting internet addresses (URL) shared on Facebook, including brief narration of internet address content, numbers of like and user traffic, to the most private databases which are confidentially authorized by Facebook. However, Professor Persily indicated that the number of users who are willing to share their profile for academic researches is still unknown. Apart from Facebook, they are manage to extend the platform to Twitter, Google, Software, and other Asian institutes. In respond to the ask to participate the plan by Professor Huang, Professor Persily replied positively and mentioned that there are other institutes ask to join, including Asian Barometer of NTU.

Professor Persily took group photos with members of TIGCR after events.

(Photo credit: TIGCR)