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Meta Takes A Step Back By Retiring Crucial Misinformation Tracking Tool


Meta Takes A Step Back By Retiring Crucial Misinformation Tracking Tool

Meta has confirmed that it is shutting down CrowdTangle, its social media monitoring tool, on August 14, 2024, it was announced on the website. This decision ends years of speculation about the platform’s fate and represents a significant shift in Meta’s approach to data sharing and transparency.

The tech company explains that “phasing out CrowdTangle will allow us to focus resources on our new research tools, Meta Content Library & Content Library API, which provide useful, high-quality data to researchers,” citing evolving technology, regulatory changes, and a need to meet rigorous privacy and security standards as driving factors behind this move.

CrowdTangle has been a source of contention within Meta since 2021, as concerns arose that the tool was providing misleading data about the role of Meta’s apps in spreading divisive political content. 

A Twitter (now X) bot created by New York Times journalist Kevin Roose regularly highlighted the most popular Facebook posts based on CrowdTangle listings, which were often dominated by right-wing voices, suggesting algorithmic amplification of such content.

Meta disbanded the CrowdTangle team in July 2021 after a dispute over what content the app should display. While the project continued, its future remained uncertain until this recent announcement.

The decision to sunset CrowdTangle impacts not only academic researchers but also marketers and journalists who have relied on the tool to monitor trends, analyze page posts, and access analytics. Meta suggests using “Insights within Meta Business Suite” or third-party social listening tools as alternatives, though these are not direct replacements and may come at additional costs.

This move aligns with Meta’s broader pivot away from news and politics and toward user-generated viral videos. While the company has faced criticism for its perceived role in promoting divisive content, it maintains that CrowdTangle did not offer a comprehensive view of what was truly going viral on its platforms.

Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, acknowledges in an interview with Axios that the company’s “long period of soul-searching” following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and subsequent regulatory probes. He deems the new research tools and transparency efforts as “a very good faith effort” to rebuild trust with the research community and foster “a flurry of new and interesting research.”

As Meta transitions to its new data-sharing approach, the impact on social media monitoring and research capabilities remains to be seen. However, the decision to retire CrowdTangle marks a significant shift in how Meta engages with external stakeholders and manages transparency around its platforms.

Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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