Guess, McCarty Join Commission Focused on Facebook’s Influence Over Elections and Democracy

Jul 11 2018
By Arva Hassonjee and B. Rose Kelly
Source Woodrow Wilson School

Two Princeton University professors are part of a new initiative that will help social scientists to study the spread of information and misinformation on Facebook, and its influence over elections and democracy.

Andrew Guess and Nolan McCarty, both of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, are part of Social Science One, an independent research commission that will provide social scientists unprecedented access to data inside Facebook.

Social Science One, which is a partnership with Facebook, represents a novel relationship between academic researchers and private industry. The organization debuted July 11 and enables academics to analyze information collected by private industry in accountable and socially beneficial ways. The hope is that other private companies with socially valuable user data will follow suit.

Social Science One has a two-part organizational structure. Instead of one researcher working to gain access to company data and then permission to publish, there are two groups. There is a commission of senior academics who have full access to Facebook’s proprietary data and agrees not to publish. The second group consists of outside academics who are free to publish without Facebook’s approval.

Guess, assistant professor of politics and public affairs, is part of the Disinformation and Election Integrity Committee of Social Science One. He studies the intersection of political communication, public opinion, and political behavior.

McCarty, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, is on the Methodology Committee of Social Science One. He studies U.S. politics, democratic political institutions, and political game theory.

Funding for the commission comes from a number of nonprofit foundations. Social Science One’s initial project is supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, The Democracy Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Charles Koch Foundation, Omidyar Network’s Tech and Society Solutions Lab, and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the Social Science Research Council.

For more information about Social Science One, click here.