Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to Support Facebook Research Initiative to Study Social Media Impact on Elections
Facebook is going back to school: The social network announced an initiative that will see a group of scholars analyze the impact of social media on elections.
Vice president of communications and public policy Elliot Schrage and director of research David Ginsberg announced in a Newsroom post that the initiative will be funded by the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, the Omidyar Network and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Facebook will not have any right to review or approve research findings prior to publication, and the scholars will be tasked with:
- Defining the research agenda: Questions to be addressed will include, “Will Facebook’s current product roadmap effectively fight the spread of misinformation and foreign interference?” Specific topics may include misinformation; polarizing content; promoting freedom of expression and association; protecting domestic elections from foreign interference; and civic engagement. Schrage and Ginsberg wrote, “Commission members will learn about Facebook’s internal efforts related to elections and source input from the academic community to determine the most important unanswered research questions. They will also begin to work with international experts to develop research evaluating Facebook’s impact in upcoming elections—with the goal of identifying and mitigating possible negative effects.”
- Soliciting proposals for independent research on a range of different topics: “Respected academic experts” will form a commission to develop requests for research proposals. Selected scholars will receive funding for their research, as well as access to privacy-protected datasets from Facebook, which they can analyze...