Meta Schedules End Date for CrowdTangle

In 2021, software company CrowdTangle saw its team disbanded, new user registrations ceased in 2022, and the site is slated for formal closure on August 14, according to mainstream media sources. CrowdTangle, an important resource for journalists and scholars researching the disbursement of content across Facebook and Instagram, such as disinformation and hoax news. The decision by Meta, the company’s owner since 2016, to disband the team does not come as a surprise, as CrowdTangle has revealed many of the tech giant’s shortcomings.

Replacing CrowdTangle will be a tool called the Meta Content Library, but its use is restricted to academics and Nonprofit research professionals. Nonprofit News entities are expressly forbidden from applying for access to this revamped tool, which many expect to be a toned-down version of its predecessor, CrowdTangle. Meta asserts that its new Content Library includes unique features such as data on public comments and content searching based on view counts. However, early evaluators have pointed out shortcomings such as the lack of geographical activity data and the inability to download data from public posts.

Reducing the level of information available for public scrutiny is arguably in Meta’s and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s best interests. Recent expos√© revealed questionable decisions taken by Zuckerberg, including overriding expert advice and personally intervening to prevent a ban on Instagram’s cosmetic surgery filters. Further troublesome decisions under his jurisdiction include Instagram algorithms promoting content depicting child sexual exploitation and consistent denial of requests to prioritize platform safety. Subsequently, legal representation claimed his non-liability for any legal disputes concerning harm induced by Meta’s platforms.

In response to shutting down CrowdTangle, ex-CEO and co-founder Brandon Silverman expressed his disappointment in a blog post. He labeled the decision to cease operation of CrowdTangle just 12 weeks before the US Presidential election as “wildly irresponsible.” Nonetheless, he expressed hope that CrowdTangle’s influence would stimulate the development of long-term regulations, ensuring ongoing, legal access to public data for responsible, cooperative internet management.

Updated March 14, 2024, 8:24 PM ET: The ex-CEO’s response to Meta’s CrowdTangle closure has been included in the story.

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