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Announcing the winners of Facebook’s request for proposals on misinformation and polarization

Misinformation and polarization are fundamental challenges we face, not just as a company with the mission of bringing people together but also as members of societies dealing with layered challenges ranging from election interference to a global pandemic.

At the end of February, Facebook Research launched a request for proposals focusing on these dual challenges. Our goal is to support independent research that will contribute to the understanding of these phenomena and, in the long term, help us improve our policies, interventions, and tooling. We invited proposals that took any of a wide variety of research approaches to bring new perspectives into ongoing work on issues like health misinformation, affective polarization, digital literacy, and more.

We received over 1,000 proposals from 600 institutions and 77 countries around the world that covered an impressive range of disciplines and methodological approaches. The 25 awardees intend to investigate these issues across 42 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

Proposals were evaluated by a selection committee comprising members of Facebook’s research and policy teams. The selection process was incredibly competitive, so we want to thank all the researchers who took the time to submit a proposal. Congratulations to the winners.

Research award winners

The names listed below are the principal investigators of each proposal.

Affective polarization and contentious politics: Women’s movement in Mexico
Marta Barbara Ochman, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey

Affective polarization: Causal drivers, online networks, and Interventions
Selim Erdem Aytaç, Koç University

Can third party fact-checkers on Facebook reduce affective polarization?
Fei Shen, City University of Hong Kong

Countering deepfake misinformation among low digital-literacy populations
Ayesha Ali, Lahore University of Management Sciences

Cross-cultural psychological motivations of online political hostility
Michael Bang Petersen, Aarhus University

Dangerous speech, social media and violence in Ethiopia
Mercy Fekadu Mulugeta, Addis Ababa University

Digital literacy and misinformation among smallholder farmers in Tanzania
Justin Kalisti Urassa, Sokoine University of Agriculture

Digital literacy, demographics and misinformation in Myanmar
Hilary Oliva Faxon, Phandeeyar

Digital literacy in East Africa: A three country comparative study
Meghan Sobel Cohen, Regis University

Digital literacy in Latin America: Developing measures for WhatsApp
Kevin Munger, Pennsylvania State University

Do online video recommendation algorithms increase affective polarization?
Brandon Stewart, Princeton University

Do users in India, Kenya, Ghana react differently to problematic content?
Godfred Bokpin, CUTS Accra

Examining how ingroup dissent on social media mitigates false polarization
Victoria A. Parker, Wilfrid Laurier University

Exploring harmful [mis]information via normalized online violent content
Joanne Lloyd, University of Wolverhampton

Indigenous women and LBGTQI+ people and violence on Facebook
Bronwyn Carlson, Macquarie University

Micro-Influencers as digital community health workers
Kathryn Cottingham, Dartmouth College

Political elites and the appeal of fake news in Brazil
Natália Salgado Bueno, Emory University

Political identity ownership
Shannon C. McGregor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Quantifying harms of misinformation during the U.S. presidential election
Erik C. Nisbet, Northwestern University

Quantifying persistent effects of misinformation via neural signals
Joseph W. Kable, University of Pennsylvania

STOP! Selective trust originates polarization
Sergio Splendore, Universitá degli Studi di Milano

The circulation of dangerous speech in the 2020 Brazilian elections
Lucas Calil Guimarães Silva, Fundação Getúlio Vargas

The contagion of misinformation
Heidi Larson, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Unpacking trust and bias in social media news in developing countries
Denis Stukal, University of Sydney

When online speech meets offline harm: Internet shutdowns in Africa
Nicole Stremlau, University of Oxford

To view our currently open research awards and to subscribe to our email list, visit our Research Awards page.

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