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Inside Facebook's Data Wars

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A sign outside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.

Facebook executives have battled internally over transparency.

Credit: Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

One day in April, the people behind CrowdTangle, a data analytics tool owned by Facebook, learned that transparency had limits.

Brandon Silverman, CrowdTangle's co-founder and chief executive, assembled dozens of employees on a video call to tell them that they were being broken up. CrowdTangle, which had been running quasi-independently inside Facebook since being acquired in 2016, was being moved under the social network's integrity team, the group trying to rid the platform of misinformation and hate speech. Some CrowdTangle employees were being reassigned to other divisions, and Mr. Silverman would no longer be managing the team day to day.

The announcement, which left CrowdTangle's employees in stunned silence, was the result of a yearlong battle among Facebook executives over data transparency, and how much the social network should reveal about its inner workings.

On one side were executives, including Mr. Silverman and Brian Boland, a Facebook vice president in charge of partnerships strategy, who argued that Facebook should publicly share as much information as possible about what happens on its platform — good, bad or ugly.

From The New York Times
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