Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Facebook has been sharing user data with Stanford to study US inequality

February 20, 2018

The social network is working with economists to throw light on America’s widening income gap.

The news:  Politico reports that Facebook is sharing data with Stanford economist Raj Chetty and his researchers. Facebook confirmed the partnership to Politico, while Chetty said he’s “using social networks, and measuring interactions there, to understand the role of social capital.”

The data: It’s an economist’s dream. Sixty-eight percent of American adults are on Facebook, sharing gobs of details—about education, employment, social ties, pastimes, and more. That can be used to determine socioeconomic class. (Sources tell Politico the information is anonymized and its users vetted.)

Now what? Neither Facebook nor Chetty told Politico what the end goal is. But Zuck’s been vocal about “real divergence between opportunity available in small towns and big cities,” and he supports universal basic income. He likely hopes new insights can shift the needle, so 1 percent of Americans no longer hold 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.