Facebook Joins Hands With Foundations to Help Scholars Research on Elections

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Facebook has become an essential part of our lives to voice our opinions. Hence, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently stated that Facebook will initiate help to scholars and help them discern the impact of social media on elections.

The goal is both to get the ideas of leading academics on how to address these issues as well as to hold us accountable for making sure we protect the integrity of these elections on Facebook. To do this, we’re working with foundations across the US to set up a committee of academic experts who will come up with research topics and select — through a peer review process — independent researchers to study them. We’ll give those researchers access to our resources so they can draw unbiased conclusions about Facebook’s role in elections, including how we’re handling the risks on our platform and what steps we need to take before future elections. They’ll share their work publicly, and we won’t require our approval to publish. – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

The goal is to properly understand the impact of Facebook in the upcoming elections, such as in Brazil, India, Mexico, and the midterm US. This initiative will prioritize the advice and analysis of outside experts, which will ultimately help the public make better decisions and faster progression. It will be funded by the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, 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 first consult the funding foundations and invite academic experts to form a commission that will help with the research agenda. The initial term of the commission will be one year, and membership will be determined in the coming weeks. The group of scholars will try to

  • Define the research agenda;
  • Solicit proposals for independent research on a range of different topics; and
  • Manage a peer review process to select scholars who will receive funding for their research and access to privacy-protected datasets from Facebook that they can analyze.

The commission will exercise the mandatory in several ways by prioritizing research agenda, Soliciting independent research, Providing access to information while protecting privacy and Independent and transparent reporting.

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