Meta opens up its data, content library

Meta opens up its data, content library

Meta is striving to build an open and accountable digital ecosystem and is trying to act in a way that shows a readiness to act for the responsible advancement of technology

As regulators across the world get tough on how Big Tech is gathering our personal data and using it, companies are trying to be proactive in sharing what they do with our data before things become too hot.Facebook’s parent company Meta has announced that it will start rolling out a new suite of tools for researchers: Meta Content Library and API. The Library includes data from public posts, pages, groups, and events on Facebook. This is part of the company’s strategy for greater transparency, according to a blog in their website by Nick Clegg, President, Global Affairs of the company. Meta claims that it is introducing new measures to enhance transparency, improve user control, and foster collaboration for responsible AI development.

The explosive development of AI technology and its subsequent popularity in recent months has drawn attention from regulators around the world who have expressed concern about how these systems collect, manage, and use our personal data.Meta’s algorithms aren’t new, but the way it mismanaged user data during the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the reactions to TikTok’s tepid transparency efforts are likely a motivational reminder to over communicate.

For Instagram, it will include public posts and data from creator and business accounts. Data from the Library can be searched, explored, and filtered on a graphical user interface or through a programmatic API.

Researchers from qualified academic and research institutions pursuing scientific or public interest research topics will be able to apply for access to these tools through partners with deep expertise in secure data sharing for research, starting with the University of Michigan’s Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. These tools will provide the most comprehensive access to publicly-available content across Facebook and Instagram of any research tool that the organisation has built to date and also help Meta meet new data-sharing and transparency compliance obligations.

The critical 22 System Cards

Meta announced that it has developed a model to share information in an accessible manner. To this end, the company has released 22 system cards for Facebook and Instagram. These system cards offer insights into how AI systems rank content, the predictions they make, and the controls users can utilise to customise their experience. They cover various surfaces like Feed, Stories, Reels, and recommendations for unconnected content. Additionally, Meta provides detailed information about the inputs, known as signals, and predictive models used in the content ranking process.

The Importance of User Feedback

Meta’s AI systems utilise a wide range of predictions, including user behavior and feedback received through surveys, to determine content relevance. For instance, sharing a post indicates interest, making it a factor in content ranking. By incorporating user feedback, Meta aims to optimise content delivery based on individual preferences and interests.

Tools for Personalised Experiences

Meta acknowledges the importance of user agency and offers tools to shape individual experiences. Users can access centralised places on Facebook and Instagram, such as Feed Preferences and the Suggested Content Control Center, to customise the content they see. The “Interested” and “Not Interested” features on Instagram’s Reels tab allow users to provide feedback and influence future recommendations. Similarly, the “Show more, Show less” feature on Facebook empowers users to fine-tune their content consumption. Additionally, users have the option to switch to a chronological Feed or create a Favourites list to prioritise content from their preferred accounts.

Meta tries to become more accountable

Meta’s commitment to transparency, user control, and collaboration is evident in its efforts to provide more insight into AI systems, enhance user customisation, and empower researchers. By sharing information through system cards, expanding features like “Why Am I Seeing This?” and providing tools for researchers, Meta is striving to build a more open and accountable digital ecosystem. The company acknowledges the rapid advancements in powerful technologies like AI and is trying to act in a way that shows that it is ready to be more open and collaborate across industry, government, and civil society for responsible advancement of technology.

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