ASU assistant professor weighs in on Facebook's data lockdown

Shawn Walker, assistant professor of social media at Arizona State University's New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, recently co-authored an article in The Conversation about the impact Facebook's dramatic restrictions to data access in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal would have on academic researchers.

Walker and Marco Bastos, a senior lecturer in media and communication at the University of London, state these new restrictions will severely limit researchers' ability to monitor and assess how Facebook's 2.3 billion users behave in online interactions. Plus, given the massive size of Facebook's user base, external scruitny of the content produced is extremely important.

"Systematic research on Facebook content is now untenable," Walker and Bastos said in the article, "turning what was already a worryingly opaque, siloed social network into a black box that is arguably even less accountable to lawmakers and the public – both of whom benefited from academics who monitored developments on the site."