Facebook users will be paid to ditch their accounts for election study

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Facebook users will be paid up to $120 to shut down their accounts as part of an experiment on how the platform affects elections.

The social-media giant is reportedly recruiting users willing to give up Facebook and Instagram for one or six weeks in late September for a study of how the apps influence political behavior and attitudes.

Facebook has pushed out a notice asking users whether they would accept $10, $15 or $20 a week to make the sacrifice in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, according to screenshots published by Washington Post reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin. Those who participate will be able to take a survey after the Nov. 3 election.

Facebook spokeswoman Liz Bourgeois confirmed that all users who participate in the research will be compensated. “This is fairly standard for this type of academic research,” she said on Twitter.

A Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone.
Dado Ruvic/Reuters

The company expects 200,000 to 400,000 adults will participate in the study it announced Monday, which is set to start soon and continue into December. It will be conducted in partnership with 17 independent researchers focused on democracy, elections and social media, but findings won’t be published until at least the middle of next year, Facebook said.

Facebook said it won’t be paying the outside researchers, but it’s not clear whether the company or someone else will pay the users who deactivate their accounts. Facebook did not immediately respond to an email Friday asking whether it will foot the bill.

Facebook says it will select scientific samples of Americans to participate in the study that will reflect the diversity of the nation’s adult population as well as Facebook and Instagram’s users.


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