Hey researchers! Have you been ‘left on read’ by platforms? Share your stories!

Platforms routinely refuse to provide data for public interest investigations—leaving researchers feeling snubbed. Sound familiar? Tell us your story!

The Problem

In our discussions with researchers from civil society and academia, we learned about the tremendous barriers many of you face when conducting public interest research using platform data. You told us about inaccurate or incomplete ad archives, arbitrary or unpredictable request/authorization processes, and the effects that the concentration and privatization of data have on independent research.
While these stories are all-too familiar for those who work in the field, they don’t typically reach beyond academic mailing lists or conference round tables.
To push for mandatory transparency requirements, we need better evidence and a stronger narrative about why this issue matters and how it connects to bigger questions about platform accountability. Because as you know, without reliable data it becomes almost impossible to hold platforms accountable.

The Idea

In its consultation for the “Digital Services Act” (DSA), the European Commission has requested input from third parties who access platform data through transparency reports, data sharing partnerships, APIs, web-scraping etc. If you are a researcher working with platform data, we want to hear from you!
We are collecting stories and experiences of researchers who have been “left on read” by platforms. The stories will be compiled and published to our website as a journalistic story (or series of stories, depending on the number of submissions). With the help of these stories, we will advocate for strong transparency requirements to be included in the DSA.

Our Ask

You can support the campaign and help us amplify the voices of the research community:


AlgorithmWatch’s Governing Platforms project is a civil society-driven, multi-stakeholder dialogue series focused on the research, design, and advocacy of rights respecting policy recommendations for platform governance at the EU-level.

Watch this video of Governing Platforms Project Director Mackenzie Nelson explaining the importance of the #leftOnRead campaign. To learn more about platform transparency deficits and how the EU can design ethical, GDPR compliant transparency and data access frameworks, check out our Governing Platforms Project page.

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