Paul Marotta/Getty Images
- A firm hired by Facebook is offering to pay tech journalists $350 to tell it what they think about social media.
- The market research firm reached out to multiple reporters and editors on Monday.
- The survey comes as Facebook’s reputation has been bruised by a series of reports about privacy violations and the misuse of its platform to spread misinformation.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
A market research firm working on behalf of Facebook is offering to pay journalists hundreds of dollars to privately share their thoughts about social media.
Market research agency Luce Research has been emailing tech reporters and other "thought leaders" on behalf of the Silicon Valley tech giant and asking them to take part in interviews to discuss subjects including security, content moderation, and "the integrity of information on social media" — and offering $350 each in return.
Multiple Business Insider employees were contacted via email on Monday, including this reporter, as well as at least one editor at The New York Times. In the email, Luce Research said it was reaching out to "key opinion formers in the US in order to capture the latest thinking on these issues."
Among the key topics the research firm said it was interested in discussing:
- "Security and privacy on social media."
- "How content shared on social media should be moderated."
- "Responsibility for the integrity of information on social media."
The survey comes as Facebook’s reputation has been badly bruised by a series of reports of privacy violations and the spread of misinformation on its platform. The outreach by Facebook shows how the company tries to stay acutely aware of public opinion about itself and some of the core issues affecting its business by engaging with influential figures in society. It also raises questions about the appropriateness of a company offering to pay cash to journalists who regularly report on it or edit news about it.
Several members of Business Insider’s editorial team who are regularly involved in the news coverage of Facebook received a solicitation to participate in the survey. New York Times editor Susan Fowler, who said on Twitter that she also received the email, edits opinion pieces relating to technology for the newspaper.
Luce Research said it would offer $350 in return for a 45 minute interview, "which can be donated to a charity, should you prefer."
In the email it said: "We are working with the research consultancy firm, Republic, on an important research project for Facebook, exploring attitudes towards social media, the role that social media plays in today’s society and the priorities that social media companies should be setting at the current time."
Facebook spokesperson Bertie Thomson said Facebook didn’t select any of the survey participants. "This is a long standing study seeking the point of view of a representative sample of thought leaders. This kind of survey is standard practice, as is payment or offering a charitable contribution for participants’ time," she wrote in an emailed statement. "Facebook isn’t involved in selecting the participants of this survey, precisely to avoid the kinds of issues you raise."
Luce Research did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here’s the full email Business Insider received:
Dear Rob Price,
I am contacting you from Luce Research, a market research agency that specializes in recruiting participants for research projects and opinion former studies worldwide.
We are working with the research consultancy firm, Republic, on an important research project for Facebook, exploring attitudes towards social media, the role that social media plays in today’s society and the priorities that social media companies should be setting at the current time. In particular, we are interested in discussing:
- Security and privacy on social media;
- How content shared on social media should be moderated;
- Responsibility for the integrity of information on social media.
As part of this research we are speaking to key opinion formers in the US in order to capture the latest thinking on these issues and, to this end, were very much hoping that you would consider taking part.
Facebook is enthusiastic to hear your thoughts and recommendations on these issues and have asked Republicto conduct this research in order to allow you to be completely open and honest in your feedback. The interview would last around 45 minutes and would be conducted over the telephone by a researcher from Republic or Luceat a time to suit you. As a gesture of thanks for your time and input we are offering $350, which can be donated to a charity, should you prefer.
Please note that the research is being conducted in strict accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct and the Data Protection Act, and all responses are therefore anonymous, confidential and non-attributable.
By agreeing to take part in this project and accepting compensation, you confirm that there are no professional or other restrictions on your participation in this research.
This is an exciting piece of research and we would be delighted to hear from you.
If you would like to participate and/or have questions about the research, please reply to this email or to [redacted] at [redacted] or by phone at [redacted].
Best wishes, and thanks in advance,
President, Luce Research
Do you work at Facebook? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at email@example.com, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.
- Instagram’s lax privacy practices let a trusted partner track millions of users’ physical locations, secretly save their stories, and flout its rules
- Mark Zuckerberg’s personal security chief accused of sexual harassment and making racist remarks about Priscilla Chan by 2 former staffers
- Facebook says it ‘unintentionally uploaded’ 1.5 million people’s email contacts without their consent
- Years of Mark Zuckerberg’s old Facebook posts have vanished. The company says it ‘mistakenly deleted’ them.
NOW WATCH: 7 lesser-known benefits of Amazon Prime
- 2 privacy crises in one week prove Facebook still hasn’t solved its privacy woes, even after a $5 billion fine
- This New York tech founder’s startup raised $52 million to save small businesses from nightmare Yelp reviews. Here’s his pitch deck.
- Startup founders need to distance themselves from big tech, according to the CEO of famed startup accelerator Y Combinator