Facebook Makes Changes To Stop People From Monitoring The Platform…. Which Is An Excellent Reason To #DeleteFacebook

From the “this seems underhanded” department comes the news that Facebook has begun rolling out an update that is interfering with watchdogs monitoring the platform:

The Markup has found evidence that Facebook is adding changes to its website code that foils automated data collection of news feed posts — a technique that groups like NYU’s Ad Observatory, The Markup, and other researchers and journalists use to audit what’s happening on the platform on a large scale. The changes, which attach junk code to HTML features meant to improve accessibility for visually impaired users, also impact browser-based ad blocking services on the platform. The new code risks damaging the user experience for people who are visually impaired, a group that has struggled to use the platform in the past.

The updates add superfluous text to news feed posts in the form of ARIA tags, an element of HTML code that is not rendered visually by a standard web browser but is used by screen reader software to map the structure and read aloud the contents of a page. Such code is also used by organizations like NYU’s Ad Observatory to identify sponsored posts on the platform and weed them out for further scrutiny. Facebook did not respond to a request for comment before press time. Following the changes, the Citizen Browser project experienced a drop in data collection rates from early September, prompting the investigation that uncovered these changes to the code. At around the same time, users of certain ad blockers noticed a decrease in their effectiveness.

What we are seeing is that Facebook appears to be actively taking steps to prevent other groups from holding them accountable in any meaningful way. I can’t say that I’m surprised by this as Zuckerberg or some other Facebook official has said in public over and over again that they want to make things better on the platform. But then they then pull a stunt like this. I am glad that this is being highlighted so that it makes it clear that the best way to deal with Facebook is to #DeleteFacebook.

One Response to “Facebook Makes Changes To Stop People From Monitoring The Platform…. Which Is An Excellent Reason To #DeleteFacebook”

  1. […] isn’t the way to go about doing this. If you combine this with this other story that I wrote earlier today, Facebook has really sunk to a new low. Even by their standards. Thus […]

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