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How does Facebook affect elections? Sixty academics are getting the chance to find out.

The social media giant is opening up its privacy-protected data to researchers from 30 academic institutions across 11 countries, according to a Facebook post on Monday. The data spans from January 2017 to February 2019. The researchers were chosen by Facebook's partners at Social Science One and the Social Science Research Council.

The selected researchers will gain access to data from a CrowdTangle API. That API will let them track: public Facebook and Instagram posts; Facebook's Ad Library API, which provides data on ads related to politics or issues; and Facebook's URLs Data Set, which provides data on URLs that have been shared on the social network.

SEE: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dumps Facebook, advocates for digital wellbeing

Facebook said it hopes to deepen the public's understanding of social media's role in democracy and elections while helping other companies improve their products.

"To assure the independence of the research and the researchers, Facebook did not play any role in the selection of the individuals or their projects and will have no role in directing the findings or conclusions of the research," Facebook said in the post.

Last April Facebook launched a similar initiative to help scholars research social media's impact on elections.

The latest initiative comes as Facebook, beset by scandal, is using its ongoing F8 conference to help chart a new course. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will hold his opening keynote Tuesday where he's expected to discuss new ideas around its messaging services, photo sharing, artificial intelligence and more.

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Shelby is an Staff Writer for CNET's She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Her cats, Puck and Koda, are the best cats ever.