Would you quit Facebook if someone offered your $120? It could happen.
The social medial giant announced it will pay up to 400,000 people to quit Facebook and Instagram until December.
It’s all part of a research project looking into the effect social media has on elections. According to the company, “The effort is a partnership between Facebook researchers and independent external academics. Externally, the project is led by Professors Talia Stroud and Joshua A. Tucker, two independent academics who serve as chairs of Social Science One committees. Professors Tucker and Stroud selected 15 additional researchers to collaborate on this effort, based on their expertise.”
Media reports said that the company will pay users who want to take part up to $120 to give up social media from September to early December.
Facebook faced heavy criticism during the 2016 presidential election. There were claims that posts on social media by Russian-sponsored groups influenced voters’ decisions. Others accused Facebook of not doing enough to fight factually incorrect posts regarding politics, COVID-19, and other hot-button topics. According to Facebook, “The US elections in 2016 exposed the risk of social media being abused to interfere in elections, and misinformation and political polarization clearly play out on social media platforms too.”
So, why would Facebook even consider paying people not to use it? The company says it wants to know if Facebook makes problems worse or just reflects what’s already happening in society. “We need to better understand whether social media makes us more polarized as a society, or if it largely reflects the divisions that already exist; if it helps people to become better informed about politics, or less; or if it affects people’s attitudes towards government and democracy, including whether and how they vote.”
Facebook said the company will have no control over the results of the study and they won’t use any of the data to target advertising to users. They also didn’t explain who would determine what constitutes being better informed about politics.
And no, you can’t volunteer to be part of the study. The researchers will choose users at random and reach out to them with the offer.