In the past few years, issues such as algorithmic accountability and the spread of misinformation have risen to the forefront of social and technology policy discussions. Regulators, civil society, policy-makers, and researchers all have a strong desire to determine the effect that tech platforms have on society. However, these communities face a severe information asymmetry problem, as tech platforms unilaterally own the user data that could inform debates about their social impact. Alternative sources of data that could enable transparency into these systems, such as Internet research panels, are either methodologically problematic or cost-prohibitive.
Christo Wilson and Rebecca Weiss present the state of online measurement platforms as they exist today, why they are not sufficient to address the scope and scale of the social problems of the Internet, and what they hope the future holds for enabling science and activism through novel industry-research collaboration.