Facebook has introduced a new academic research application programming interface (API) designed to aggregate the platform’s real-time data. 

Only a small, select group of academic researchers will be invited to use the API, at least until February 2022. At that point, Facebook will grant wider access to academics. 

Given the platform’s past issues with data privacy, the API is intended to protect user privacy, as well as ensure that data analyzed can’t be re-identified. 

During the trial, Facebook will provide data from pages, groups, events and posts, and only from sources in the US and European Union. 

Over the past three years, Facebook had shut down thousands of APIs due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where personal data from millions of people was collected without consent. Facebook is only now starting to give broad access, albeit specifically to academics.