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American University picked a bad time to ask for data on Facebook

American University picked a bad time to ask for data on Facebook
[Photo: rawpixel]

Researchers at American University want to understand online browsing habits and how people select online media, so they turned to Facebook to solicit participants. They promoted a post asking users to give them 10-15 minutes of their time in exchange for a $2 Amazon gift card and “the opportunity to enter to win one of ten $50 Amazon gift cards!”

You can probably already guess how this is going over with Facebook users: In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where some 87 million users had their data improperly harvested after they or their friends took a seemingly harmless online quiz, users are a wee bit skeptical of any online survey promoted on Facebook.

[Screenshot: Facebook]
The comments on the study’s post make it clear that at least some Facebook users have learned to be a little more savvy, and won’t be sharing any more information–at least not for a $2 gift card. The researchers behind the poorly timed project are now in the position of having to pinky-swear that their survey is harmless, as is the Chrome browser extension they want you to install.

We have reached out to the American University researcher and will update if we hear back.

A Facebook spokesperson noted that the survey is running off Facebook without any Facebook data, and directs people to a third-party site. In short, it’s not their concern, despite the optics. On Wednesday, though, Facebook will release its first earnings report since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so investors will find out whether optics have affected its finances.

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