WASHINGTON: A digital tool considered vital in tracking viral falsehoods, CrowdTangle will be decommissioned by Facebook owner Meta in a major election year, a move researchers fear will disrupt efforts to detect an expected firehose of political misinformation.

The tech giant says CrowdTangle will be unavailable after August 14, less than three months bef­ore the US election. The Palo Alto company plans to rep­lace it with a new tool that researchers say lacks the sa­me functionality, and which news organisations will largely not have access to.

For years, CrowdTangle has been a game-changer, offering researchers and journalists crucial real-time transparency into the spread of conspiracy theories and hate speech on influential Meta-owned plat­forms, including Face­book and Instagram.

Killing off the monitoring tool, a move experts say is in line with a tech industry trend of rolling back transparency and security measures, is a major blow as dozens of countries hold elections this year — a period when bad actors typically spread false narratives more than ever.

“In a year where almost half of the global population is expected to vote in elections, cutting off access to CrowdTangle will severely limit independent oversight of harms,” Melanie Smith, director of research at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said.

“It represents a grave step backwards for social media platform transparency.” Meta is set to replace CrowdTangle with a new Content Library, a technology still under development. It’s a tool that some in the tech industry, including former Crowd­Tangle chief executive Brandon Silver­man, said is currently not an effective replacement, especially in elections likely to see a proliferation of AI-enabled falsehoods.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...
Saudi investment
Updated 10 Apr, 2024

Saudi investment

The state has to address barriers that stand in the way of attracting foreign investment, and create a pro-business environment.
Charity for change
Updated 11 Apr, 2024

Charity for change

PAKISTANIS are large-hearted people who empty their pockets at the slightest hint of another’s need. The Stanford...