That's because, just months after Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor Gary King wrote an academic paper about a system that would allow researchers to access the massive data troves held by Facebook and other private companies, it is set to become a reality.

Along with his collaborator Nathaniel Persily at Stanford, King created an organization called Social Science One which will lead the effort to identify data inside Facebook, prepare it for researchers, and fund numerous scholars to analyze the data.

"As social scientists, our goal is to understand and solve the greatest challenges that affect human society," King said.

"This commission has the potential to open a new chapter in social science research, and in the overall acquisition of knowledge, in which the organizations that possess critically important information about people and institutions, like social media platforms, and professional researchers will be able to more effectively collaborate to address some of the most difficult problems facing our society," said Matthew Baum, Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications at the Harvard Kennedy School, and member of the Social Science One commission.

Outlined by King and Persily in a working paper in April, the framework that underpins Social Science One consists of two parts.

The foundations span the ideological gamut but their money is pooled, and all decisions will be made by academics, and so no one viewpoint can dominate.

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