Meta Sets Final Date to Shut Down CrowdTangle Monitoring App

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Meta announced that it’s shutting down CrowdTangle, the social media analytics tool acquired by Facebook in 2016, despite its widespread use by academic researchers and journalists.

CrowdTangle stated on its website that the platform has entered into “maintenance mode,” during which users will be blocked from adding new members to their accounts.

Users can continue to access CrowdTangle’s User Interface, API, historical data feature, and the Chrome Extension until the platform closed down on Aug. 14, according to the update.

CrowdTangle will be replaced with Meta Content Library, a new monitoring tool that will be accessible to those “who conduct research” and “maintain an affiliation with a qualified nonprofit or academic institution.”

“Our data-sharing products are evolving alongside technology and regulatory changes,” CrowdTangle’s update reads.

“Phasing out CrowdTangle will allow us to focus resources on our new research tools, Meta Content Library and Content Library API, which provide useful, high-quality data to researchers,” it added.

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According to the update, the new research tool was designed to help Meta “meet new regulatory requirements for data-sharing and transparency while meeting Meta’s rigorous privacy and security standards.”

Timing to Shut Down CrowdTangle ‘Incredibly Irresponsible’

Brandon Silvermann, former co-founder and CEO of CrowdTangle, has criticized Meta for shutting down CrowdTangle just 12 weeks before the U.S. presidential election, calling the move “incredibly irresponsible.”

“CrowdTangle was available not just to academics, fact-checkers, and non-profit researchers but also to the broader news industry. It seems as if that door is being permanently shut to all those partners,” he stated in a blog post.

Mr. Silvermann, who left Meta in 2021, said that the Meta Content Library is far from becoming a replacement for CrowdTangle at this point in time.

“Unfortunately, compared to CrowdTangle, there is a ton of missing functionality when it comes to actually getting any insights about the data, including being able to aggregate data at the account level or topic level, being able to export the data easily into the workflow of researchers through email notifications or browser extensions, being able to create live displays, having a way to benchmark the performance of individual posts to get ahead of viral stories, etc,” he added.

Nevertheless, Mr. Silvermann said he was optimistic that the legacy of CrowdTangle will “help inspire a permanent set of regulations that make real-time access to public data a legal requirement and an ongoing part of how we manage the internet responsibly [and] collaboratively.”

CrowdTangle allows newsrooms and researchers to detect trending posts and disinformation on Facebook or Instagram. Meta previously had disbanded CrowdTangle team and blocked new users from signing up.

In November 2020, Meta responded to a Twitter account created by New York Times journalist Kevin Roose, which shared a list of 10 trending Facebook posts. The list, generated using CrowdTangle data, was predominantly comprised of far-right pages.

“Using Facebook’s own tool, CrowdTangle, you can retrieve data about which Page posts are engaged with the most. This tool was built to help people get some idea of what content will get likes, comments and reshares. But it is not designed to show what is being seen the most,” Meta stated in a blog post.

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