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How reliable is Facebook’s advertising data for use in social science research? Insights from a cross-national online survey

André Grow, Daniela Perrotta, Emanuele Del Fava, Jorge Cimentada, Francesco Rampazzo, Beatriz Sofía Gil-Clavel, Emilio Zagheni, René D. Flores, Ilana Ventura and Ingmar G. Weber
Additional contact information
André Grow: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
Daniela Perrotta: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
Emanuele Del Fava: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
Jorge Cimentada: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
Francesco Rampazzo: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
Beatriz Sofía Gil-Clavel: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany
Emilio Zagheni: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany

No WP-2021-006, MPIDR Working Papers from Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany

Abstract: Social scientists increasingly use Facebook’s advertising platform for research, either in the form of conducting digital censuses of the general population, or for recruiting participants for survey research. Both approaches depend on the reliability of the data that Facebook provides about its users, but little is known about how reliable these data are. We address this gap in a large-scale, cross-national online survey (N = 137,224), in which we compare self-reported and Facebook-classified demographic information (sex, age, and region of residence). Our results suggest that Facebook’s advertising platform can be fruitfully used for conducing social science research if additional steps are taken to assess the reliability of the characteristics under consideration.

Keywords: World; digital demography; population censuses; social network; surveys (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J1 Z0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 41 pages
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pay
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2021-006

DOI: 10.4054/MPIDR-WP-2021-006

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