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Researchers say Facebook is interfering with their tools to study News Feed

Facebook calmly propagandized out changes to News Feed that’s “interfering” with the browser-based tools used by columnists and researchers, according toThe Markup, the nonprofit news organization behind Citizen Browser.

According to the report, Facebook has been adding “junk code to HTML peculiarities meant to improve accessibility for visually impaired users.” The developing system impedes browsers from automatically collecting data about posts in News Feed, and may also be hampering screen books used by blind and visually impaired users.

The change has affected both The Markup’s Citizen Browser, as well as New York University’s Ad Observer, a browser extension that has helped researchers study political ads and vaccine misinformation. These types of browser-based implements have become increasingly important to researchers trying to study issues like ad targeting and misinformation. Researchers say these tools, which allow users to procreate the posts from their feeds available to professors and correspondents, is one of the only ways to access important data about how News Feed works.

Last Saturday, Facebook made a change to their DOM that had the effect of breaking Ad Observer, as well as @themarkup‘s Citizen Browser, and most importantly, screen readers for the visually impaired. It simply affected us for a few weeks, but screen books can’t be fixed as readily ./ 1 pic.twitter.com/ svN6B 9BEIM

— Laura Edelson (@ LauraEdelson2) September 21, 2021

Laura Edelson, pass researcher at NYU’s Cybersecurity for Democracy, which fees Ad Observer, said Facebook’s modifies “had the effect of breaking Ad Observer” though they were able to find a workaround.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that the company was “investigating” the claims. “We invariably see code deepens across our services, but we did not become recent code changes to block these research projects, ” the spokesperson said. “Our accessibility features mainly appear to be working as ordinary, nonetheless, we are investigating the claimed disruptions.”

The code change is the latest dustup between Facebook and researchers who say Facebook has hindered their efforts to understand what’s happening on its platform. Last-place month, the company incapacitated the personal Facebook accounts of NYU investigates working with Ad Observer “says hes” broke the company’s privacy rulers.( The FTC later rebuked Facebook for inducing “misleading” explains about its reasons for taking these actions .)

There are other suggests to the changes. As The Markup and Edelson point out, the changes could affect screen readers, an important accessibility technology. They cite at least one speciman of the code appearing to cause a screen book to read out some of these “junk” people. The changes may have also contributed to problems with some ad blockers.

Read more: engadget.com

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