Back in April, Facebook announced that it would be working with a group of academics to establish an independent research commission to look into issues of social and political significance using the company’s own extensive data collection. That commission just came out of stealth; it’s called Social Science One, and its first project will have researchers analyzing about a petabyte’s worth of sharing data.
The way the commission works is basically that a group of academics is created and given full access to the processes and datasets that Facebook could potentially provide. They identify and help design interesting sets based on their experience as researchers themselves, then document them publicly — for instance, “this dataset consists of 10 million status updates taken during the week of the Brexit vote, structured in such and such a way.”
This documentation describing the set doubles as a “request for proposals” from the research community. Other…