Believe it or not, Facebook's access to your personal information can be used to serve a higher purpose (other than to recommend the latest dating app in your Newsfeed). The social media giant is teaming up with the World Bank, which provides capital to developing countries, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to assess business health around the world.

On Wednesday, the group launched its first "Future of Business" survey, which has been in development since February. Responses were received from a total of 90,000 small and mid-sized companies across 22 countries. The aim of the study is to determine what factors contribute to small business growth--and Facebook allows researchers to collect data that would normally require in-person interviews.

Facebook, World Bank and the OECD say that by using social media to gather information, they can provide economic research that is more accurate and efficient. The group says the process will be especially informative in developing countries, where collecting information from small businesses requires more time and manpower than is available.

Published on: Sep 29, 2016